Thompson, a federal employee who worked on health-care policy, mostly as an administrator reviewing grant applications for the Department of Health and Human Services, was “extraordinarily kind and sweet,” said her daughter, Pamela Thompson. That extended to a having a sweet tooth, especially for ice cream and See’s candy.
“She had a Southern accent for the longest time, [and] everyone thought she was a bit of a pushover,” Pamela Thompson said. She described her mother as “completely nonjudgmental” and deeply empathetic.
Patricia Thompson was born in Athens, Tenn., and moved to Lake City, Fla., as a child. She graduated from Florida State University and earned a doctorate in sociology from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
That’s where she met her future husband, got married in 1962 and gave birth to one of her two daughters.
The family moved to California, and Thompson worked at the University of California at Los Angeles and Scripps College before she got a job in 1975 with the federal government in Washington. She stayed with the government for 33 years, retiring in 2009.
Thompson’s marriage ended in divorce in 1988. Her first child, Kimberly Thompson, died in 2000.
After retirement, Thompson became a master naturalist.
She traveled to Costa Rica to help with hummingbird field work, and also visited India and Nepal in 2014.
Her eyesight began to fail, and she began falling; in 2015, she was diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy, a progressive disorder with a dismal prognosis, Pamela Thompson said.
Thompson, who had converted to Quakerism, moved to Friends House, and relocated to a few more assisted-living homes before settling at Arbor Place, where she was known as Dr. Patti. When her first grandchild was born, Arbor Place threw its first-ever baby shower.
The hardest part of her disease, her daughter said, was losing the ability to speak: “She was super-articulate and had complex ideas.”
Patricia Thompson contracted the novel coronavirus in her assisted-living center and was hospitalized with covid-19 for a week before she died.