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Mary's Story

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Mary Elaine Thompson, age 93, passed away Friday, January 13, 2017, in Rochester. She was a longtime Mankato resident, a retired speech clinician in the Mankato school district, an elementary teacher, and a volunteer in her church and the community. She was the wife of Clem W. Thompson, the mother of four children, and grandmother of 10.

Memorial Service will be held 11 a.m., Friday, January 20, 2017, at First Presbyterian Church in Mankato, with lunch to follow. Visitation will be held 5-7 p.m. on Thursday at Northview-North Mankato Mortuary, 2060 Commerce Drive. Memorials are preferred to the Rafael Thompson Fund at First Presbyterian Church in Mankato.

Mrs. Thompson was born to Mattie and Leonard Groenewold on January 31, 1923, on a farm near George, Iowa. She attended Grant Township rural school, was confirmed at Lyon County Presbyterian Church, and graduated from George High School in 1940. She attended the University of Dubuque, Iowa, from 1940-42 and received a teaching degree. While at Dubuque, she sang in the A cappella choir. She also attended the University of Colorado at Boulder for two summer sessions. She taught in elementary schools in Swea City, Garner, and Iowa City, Iowa. She returned to college at the University of Iowa and graduated in 1949 with a B.A. in speech pathology.

She married Clem W. Thompson in Sibley, Iowa, on July 8, 1950. They lived in Fayetteville, Ark., and Needham, Mass., where Clem was a university professor. In 1959 they moved to Mankato when Clem became a professor of physical education at Mankato State College.

Mrs. Thompson was a longtime member of First Presbyterian Church, where she served as an elder and deacon, a member of the sanctuary choir and bell choir, church school teacher, and Meals on Wheels volunteer. She also served in Presbyterian Women as a moderator and enabler in southern Minnesota. She attended Presbyterian Women gatherings at Ames, Iowa, and at Purdue and Louisville, Ky.

Her community activities in Mankato included Campfire Girls, Boy Scouts, Little League for her three sons, serving on the board of the American Field Service, and hosting student Helge Weichel from West Germany in 1982-83. She also was a volunteer in the surgery waiting room at Immanuel-St. Joseph Hospital, a board member for the international endowment at Mankato State University, a tutor for English as a Second Language students, and a member of the Mankato Area Retired Educators Association, the MSU Women's Choir, and the North American Welch Chorus. In 1993 she was honored for her volunteer service when she was named an attendant for Bend of the River Days.

After retiring from District 77 in 1985, Mary and Clem traveled extensively and attended numerous Elderhostel programs in the U.S. and internationally. Clem died in 1990. Mary's hobbies in retirement included walking, biking, traveling, reading, gardening (especially raspberries), bridge, and writing remembrances about her childhood on the farm and her family. She also volunteered for six years as a reader for Minnesota Talking Books on KMSU Radio.

Mrs. Thompson is survived by her children and their spouses: Thomas (fiancée, Kathy Rios) of Tucson, AZ, Sally (Jay Molter) of Minneapolis, William (Patrice) of Mantorville and Peter (Amy) of London, England; grandchildren, Kelly and Rafael (deceased) Thompson, Samuel and Will Molter, Nicholas, Katherine, and Matthew Thompson, and Erin, Braden, and Calin Thompson; sisters, Sally Ann Rice and LaDonn Ross of California, and Kaye Williams of Dallas. She is also survived by several cousins and many nieces and nephews.

She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Clem; and grandson, Rafael in 2003.
Published on January 16, 2017
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