Forever Generous  

Celebrating the Life of Al Thompson


We sadly announce the passing of our dear Al Thompson after many medical challenges through his last years of life.  He leaves his loving wife of 40 years, Janice, her children Carolyn and Georganne, their children Rachel, David, Adam, Sophie and great grandchild Oscar.  Al also leaves his three sisters, Mary, Edythe and Susan, and their children, Joan, McCayla, Kevin, Cheryl, Valerie, Chris and their children, Jessica, Shelly, Miles, Levi, Nora and Cala.  For all of us and his many friends, Al’s kind care, his loving support and his help throughout the years will always be treasured.


Al’s childhood honed his research skills from a young age as he helped his father build ham radios, speakers for PA systems and rebuilt transistor radios.  His physics teacher in high school let Al teach many of the lessons as well as where Al was known as the ‘Jolly Green Giant’.  Al grew up in Vancouver, B.C., in a house built by his dad.  Al earned a degree in Physics from U.B.C., followed by a Master’s degree from Carleton University in Ottawa and a doctoral degree from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh in 1971.  He moved to Los Alamos for post-doctoral work at the Meson Facility (linear accelerator) in 1972.  He did research there until the fall of 1974 when he was hired at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab.  Al and Mary McLeod were married from 1975 to 1979.  During that time, he did a lot of collaborative research at the Stanford linear accelerator developing ways to use nuclear particles to create clear images of the heart.  He only wanted to be involved in research that would improve the world and declined opportunities for other research.


In 1980, Al met Janice Wood.  Combining their amazing skills, they developed a computer reading program called ‘Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing’ that was first released in 1987 and has helped many children and adults master typing skills.  This innovative software is still being used in many school systems around the world.


He also developed non-invasive digital angiography using an accelerator for clear images in 1983 and lectured cardiologists worldwide in subsequent years.  He taught physics at University of California at Berkeley for two years but then returned to the research field that was his true calling.  At Lawrence Berkeley Lab he invented and developed a machine able to detect and identify previously unknown molecular viruses which provided valuable medical breakthroughs.  He then developed his own company “Research Detectors Incorporated” producing a smaller version of that same machine over the past seven years; while still consulting with his previous colleagues on various other projects.


He loved hiking in Yosemite Park and other California sites and took his family visitors on many camping trips.  His sisters needed him in so many ways and he was always there for them.  Their love is ‘without reservation’.


Al was a devoted Quaker over the last 30 years primarily in Strawberry Creek Monthly Meeting in Berkeley and he served his community with them in many charitable ways.  His sisters were not able to be with him due to the COVID-19 lockdown, but were relieved that Janice, Mike, his wife and some Quaker friends were allowed to be there on his last day.


Overwhelming thanks are given especially to his sister Edy, Mike Gittelsohn, Carolyn, his Quaker friends and the dedicated staff at Atria Park Senior Living of Lafayette and at John Muir hospital.  So lovingly, all say goodbye to Al, and wish him Godspeed to heaven!

Albert Charles Thompson

- Born: August 4th 1942

- Died: May 30th, 2020.


As water reflects a face, so one's life reflects the heart.  Proverbs 27:19

Al was a wonderful, gentle, caring, humble, brilliant man who is loved by all.

He made inventive breakthroughs in nuclear medicine and physics that are helping people we will never know.

Al's version of After Glow goes as follows:

I'd like the memory of me to be a joyful one.

I'd like to leave an after glow of smiles for everyone.

I'd like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways, of happy times and laughing times and bright sunny days.

I'd like the tears of those who grieve, to dry before the sun

Of happy memories that I leave now my life on earth is done.

Love, Al

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