(Willard Ray) Thompson died peacefully at his Bayside home on
December 24, 2018, at the age of 89.
Bill was born in San Francisco on May 28, 1929, the oldest child of Martha Godfrey Thompson and Lyman Hague Thompson. After graduating from Vista High School, he earned a BA in economics at Knox College in 1951.
He married Maureen Lavender Thompson (1952-1968) and they had five children: Chris, Cindy, Scott, Jay, and David Thompson. He served in the U.S. Army (1951-1959) and was honorably discharged at the rank of captain. After Bill was seriously wounded on Pork Chop Hill in Korea, he attended the Army Language School in Monterey and served as Communications Intelligence Officer for the Army Security Agency in Frankfurt, Germany.
Upon receiving his MBA from Stanford University, he decided to teach young children and enrolled in the teacher training program at San Jose State University. His 24-year teaching career in Palo Alto schools included the fifth, fourth and first grades, with his last fifteen years, the happiest and most productive, in teaching kindergarten. Bill loved music and especially singing and playing guitar and piano for his students. Bill met June, another teacher at the Ohlone School in Palo Alto. They married in 1970, and shared many commitments to work together on some of the most critical issues of our times. They loved creating music together, and Bill always made June laugh.
He served on the Palo Alto City Childcare Task Force and was a team leader for a joint project of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1968.
As a member of the Disabled American Veterans, Bill worked steadfastly to maintain his physical condition through Aikido, Tai Chi, and Yoga. For his sabbatical in 1978, he studied at various Aikido dojos in Japan.
His concern for the future world for young children led to his protest of first-strike nuclear weapons at Livermore Lab in 1982. The following year, he joined 2,500 others there, all of whom were arrested and held for 11 days. Other actions followed at other nuclear weapons sites. He attended the World Conference Against A and H-bombs in August 1985. During the 40th anniversary of Hiroshima, he and June represented the Peace Ribbon which tied the Pentagon to the Capitol in D.C. as its Japanese counterpart simultaneously surrounded the A-bomb dome.
Bill joined the Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament at its beginning in Los Angeles in March, 1986 and completed the March in Washington, D.C. in November 1986.
Bill and June moved to Bayside in 1989 and immediately became active in community life. Bill had a strong vision for protecting the natural beauty of the Jacoby Creek Valley and dedicated his life to organizing for a healthy Bayside community and a world without war. Bill was a colleague, mentor and model for putting love into action. He first worked on Craig Lord’s organic farm while planning how to best preserve his adjoining 10 acres as open space in perpetuity. He was instrumental in founding the Jacoby Creek Land Trust and when it was incorporated in 1992, he and June gave the first conservation easement on the entire parcel to preserve it as an organic farm and natural habitat. He served on the Bayside Grange board, and was part of the Jacoby Creek Watershed Working Group, strategizing how to best meet the watershed’s needs.
In 1991, Bill became a founding member of Veterans for Peace, Humboldt Bay Chapter 56. Besides providing leadership locally, he enjoyed attending the national conventions for Veterans for Peace. In 1994, Bill participated in the entire 40 day juice-only fast on the Capitol steps in D.C. to close the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia, where he had been stationed earlier. Veterans for Peace began a daily vigil before the start of the Gulf War II, and Bill continued to stand faithfully on the Arcata Plaza in VFP’s weekly silent vigil opposing war. On November 11, 2005, he began ringing a bell to remember those killed in Iraq for an hour preceding the VFP vigil.
Bill belonged to the 805 Men’s Group, which was formed in response to the Gulf War. They met weekly for supportive discussions and to plan political actions.
At his hillside home on Jacoby Creek Road, Bill terraced 1.5 acres into “Folklife Farm,” with the vision of a place to bring local and international communities together to share in farming, sustainable energy, music, art and spiritual connection, with the aim of spreading love in the world.
Bill and June met Jane Riggan through Veterans for Peace and Jane was a support person for June until she died in 2013. Bill and Jane became partners and were a dynamic duo in the community for the rest of his life. Last September, Bill and Jane enjoyed participating in the All Species Parade at the North Country Fair, where Bill delighted the crowd with his lively chicken hand puppet.
Bill was exceptionally generous and loving with family, friends, and the many organizations he was part of and supported. He had a great zest for life, loved talking with people, and found great joy in music. He will be missed and remembered daily for his love, laughter, leadership, and of course, his hugs.
Bill’s loving family include his children, Chris, Cindy, and Scott Thompson; his sister, Janet Judge; and grandchildren, one great granddaughter, nieces and nephews. He is preceded in death by two of his children, David Joel and Jay Allen Thompson; his first wife, Maureen Lavender Thompson; wife, June Thompson; his parents, Martha Godfrey and Lyman Hague Thompson; and his brother, Jonathan Thompson.
A Celebration of Bill’s Life will be held on Friday, April 26 at 3 p.m. at the Bayside Community Hall, 2297 Jacoby Creek Road.
In lieu of flowers, please send memorial donations, made out to Cindy Wise, Bill’s daughter, to 3084 Jacoby Creek Road, Bayside, California, 95524 to support Bill and June’s vision for continuing Folklife Farm.
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