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Dr. John Thomsen, Inventor of SUPERthrive

Dr. John Ansel Armstrong Thomson, inventor of the world-famous horticultural vitamins–hormones solution SUPERthrive®, passed away peacefully on November 28, 2011, five days after his 100th birthday.(Text and images provided by SUPERthrive.)

John Thomsen Superthrive

Preceded in death by his wife, June Anna Mae Hummel Thomson, Dr. Thomson is survived by three children, Sheryll, Patrisha and Robert Thomson, all located in the Los Angeles area; three grandchildren, Travis and Ben Thomson and Leah Flanagan; and four great-grandchildren, Elijah and Alannah June Thomson and William and Margaret June Flanagan.

Thomson developed the SUPERthrive® formula in 1939. He was still engaged in the daily operations of his company, Vitamin Institute, 72 years later, actively selling worldwide. As the new company president, his daughter Patrisha Thomson will continue her father’s legacy of improving horticultural and agricultural crops with the firm’s sole product.


Holding a Ph.D. in biochemistry, Thomson collected awards and commendation for his lifetime of work. In 1940, he earned Science & Industry’s only Gold Medal at the San Francisco World’s Fair Golden Gate International Exposition. In 2006, Dr. Thomson became the first chemist to be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Lawn & Garden Marketing & Distribution Association. Other honors include Lifetime Environmental Awareness Award from Sustainable Environmental Education and induction into Nursery Retailer magazine’s Hall of Fame.

Dr. Thomson attributed his longevity to his family upbringing, a fortunate environment and a mental ability that hit the ceiling on the Standard I.Q. test.

Thomson’s grandfather and great-grandfather were owners of the biggest hotel in Detroit, and both of his parents were successful professionals and top fundraisers for the American Red Cross during World War I. His mother, Florence Antisdel Thomson, raised enough money to build an entire Red Cross base hospital in France.

His parents promoted individuality and personal health, fueling Thomson’s life-long interest in nutrition and leading to his life’s work in nutrition for both people and plants.

Throughout World War II, his SUPERthrive® was used by five U.S. Government departments (Army Corps of Engineers, Air Force, Navy, Department of Agriculture and Forest Service) to, respectively, transplant mature trees for defense plant camouflage; plant and sustain low-dust turf landing fields; improve soil conditions where salt interfered with plant success; develop vital drug- and oil-bearing plants domestically; and increase production of necessary guayule rubber.

Dr. Thomson, who is listed in 39 Who’s Who Directories, served in many community positions. He served as officer and delegate with Boy Scouts of America, and as the president of both Kiwanis of North Hollywood and the China Society in Los Angeles. Founding members of the latter included Thomson’s wife and her parents, Dr. William and Mildred Hummel.

A longtime member of the First United Methodist Church of North Hollywood, Thomson served on the church administrative board and as chairman of the Commission on Church & Society. He was an honorary lifetime member of United Methodist Men and has served as its president and as program leader and lecturer.

Dr. Thomson was very fortunate in his last months to have a wonderful staff of medical personnel and companions to watch over and encourage him, for which the family expresses deep gratitude. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

When asked about his primary philosophy of life, Dr. Thomson summed it up saying, “My whole idea is to try to leave the world better off for wherever I touch it.”