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Turlocks chimney sweep says farewell
Rob Thompson, who has owned and operated Turlock Chimney Sweeps for 30 years, has decided to retire after his years-long battle with cancer. - photo by CANDY PADILLA / The Journal

After 30 years and 12,000 chimneys, Rob Thompson of Turlock Chimney Sweeps is hanging up his chimney brush.

“I’ve loved being the chimney sweep here,” said Thompson. “People have just been great and I couldn’t have thought of a better job.”

Thompson, who started up Turlock Chimney Sweeps in 1986, has made the decision to retire after battling cancer for a number of years. He was diagnosed with melanoma in 2012, has had three brain tumors removed since 2015 and six other small tumors removed from his body as well. Additionally, Thompson has also suffered from lung cancer.

Thompson has been travelling every three weeks to the Cancer Treatment Center of America in Goodyear, Arizona, where he has undergone Keytruda immunotherapy for his illness. It has helped considerably, he said, shrinking his existing cancer and improving his outlook on the future.

“It’s working,” said Thompson. “I’m not cancer-free, but there is absolutely hope for people with cancer.

“I appreciate every day now, and stuff that would have bothered me before just doesn’t anymore.”

Despite his improving condition, Thompson still felt that it was time to walk away from chimney sweeping. The inspiration to begin his business came from his childhood, he said, when he operated a fruit stand on Geer Road at the same spot where the Turlock Chimney Sweep trailer now sits.

“I always wanted to be self-employed,” said Thompson.

Opportunity revealed itself one day as Thompson was flipping through the pages of an E-Z Shopper and saw a chimney sweep advertisement. He traded his Chevrolet truck for it, and the rest was history.

“The sweeping industry has been a wonderful ride and I’m so glad that I did it,” said Thompson.

During his years serving the Turlock community, Thompson was a thorough chimney inspector and enjoyed educating residents on how to burn efficiently and safely. Since 1994, Thompson has lived in Oregon and travelled back to Turlock to help out his long-time clientele. Now that he has retired, Thompson plans to spend his time with his wife, Patty, at their home in Oregon where they own about 90 acres.

In his absence, Thompson recommends two businesses for the community’s chimney needs: Stanislaus Stove and Flue and California Chimney Sweeps.

“I want to give a big thank you to the community and the customers because they’ve made my life special,” said Thompson. “I’ve felt the love they’ve given me and I hope they felt it back.”