Near the end of his life, some of Al’s family shared their tributes to him, which were read to him by his sister Edy. 

From Al’s sister, Mary Bittroff, in Sechelt, British Columbia:

Dear Al, 

     My love for you, my little brother, will be forever.

You were not supposed to beat me into the next world but it looks like you will do that!

God is calling you to a new destiny.

Give Mom and Dad a hug for me.

We will support Janice until she joins you.

This world is better because of your lifetime.

So, be at peace and know that you will always be remembered with love and appreciation for your kind and thoughtful journey here on earth.

         Love from your big sister, Mary

From Al’s sister Edy Thornton, in Port Orchard, Oregon:

Dear Al, 

      You and I shared good and bad times from the time we were in elementary school until your last day.  We always had each other's back and no matter what it was, we could help each other.

    When McCayla came along you immediately made a trip to Charleston, Oregon to rock her in the rocking chair at 2 weeks of age.  When she was 5 you and Janice showered her with books, stuffed animals, and even recorded stories on cassette tapes for her to enjoy after you went home.  You always attended her graduations and our special occasions.  She loved being a flower girl for your wedding to Janice.  Spending 2 weeks with you as an 8 year-old after her dad died meant so much to both of us.  

     We were sister/brother soul mates.  I still talk to you in my mind and mourn for you in my heart, but I know your soul is at peace.    Love, Edy 

From Al’s nephew Kevin, in Ottawa, Canada:

Hi Al, 

         It’s so hard to put into words the special place that you’ve always held in my heart. The air has always felt more profound in your presence. Warm, caring and profound. You’ve been at the center of some of my most treasured memories, both big and small. The memories I have of us landing imaginary airplanes (as pilot and co-pilot) have always stood out from my other childhood memories, as though vested with some sort of archetypal significance.

         I am eternally grateful for our trip to  Europe and when you flew Marisa and me out to California. This journey was enormously transformative for me: Helping to open my eyes to a bigger world, but also serving as a catalyst from grounding my feet on the ground that I stood. And it was so much fun spending that week with you and Janice on your home turf.

         I’ve always felt that our souls meet in the silence. One of my deepest hopes is that in that silence, you’ve somehow felt the depths and the warmth of my feelings for you.

         I could not have asked for a better uncle.    All the love in the world, Kevin

From Al’s niece Valerie, in Ottawa, Canada:


         Thank you for the wonderful times we’ve shared, particularly when I visited him in SF and he and Janice brought me to all the tourist attractions because I couldn’t choose just one. I have great memories of the time we spent together and even remember small details, like eating brownies together, drawing on my hand for them, going to see Al’s workplace (it was super cool) and going to see An Inconvenient Truth together. I also fondly remember hiking at that national park with the huge trees (Muir Woods? not sure of the name), I’ll always remember those times fondly.

         Most of all, pass on my love. I don’t know what Uncle Al believes in terms of an afterlife, but I truly look forward to seeing him again in whatever form that takes.                           Love, Valerie

From Joan Johnson, Al's niece from British Columbia:

Dearest Uncle Al,

           Thank-you for so much laughter, especially when I was 13 and had lockjaw... and you got me crying tears of joy! Thank-you for showing me the beautiful redwoods of California and all the science museums - especially your lab at Berkeley University which helped to inspire my love of nature and science. Thank-you for helping to invent the nuclear liquid that is now used to find blocked arteries in the heart the world over. Thank-you for always making time to attend those special life moments.... of walking me down the isle at my wedding, of graduations, births of children, family weddings and of helping me to treasure life's accomplishments, both small and large. You were a wonderful man and I am so lucky to have had you in my life. Rest in peace Al Thompson. I will cherish you always, your ever loving niece, Joan

From Susan Stinson, Al's youngest sister in Ottawa

Memories and thoughts about my big brother. 

        I was the baby of the family by 8 years and so my experiences were a little different. Edy was 8 years older than me and Al was 9 years older than me. When I was little he used to tease me and pull my ponytail. When I was about 10 years old I got my hair cut short just so he could no longer pull it. He nicknamed me Goofie McTavish and that name was probably the only nickname in our family. I remember how I used to sneak my unwanted vegetables onto his plate when no-one was watching....he had such a big appetite that he just gobbled them up. In many ways I was like an only child, as by the time I was a teenager all 3 of my siblings had moved out. I did get to travel as a teenager to visit him when he was a graduate student at Carleton University in Ottawa and that was a lot of fun. I always looked up to Al, there was just something very special about our relationship. When I first met Janice, on a family trip to Vancouver, she told me after a few days that she was surprised as Al always referred to me as his baby sister and here I was a mother of 3. He was always an important person in my world. We did not see each other very often as we lived so far apart but Al always called on my birthday and I always knew he would be there for me if I needed him. He was an amazing uncle to my children, playing with them on their level whenever he saw them. He was the first family member we told that I was expecting our first child. He would always check in with me on what my kids wanted for Christmas and would follow through and get things for them but then not get around to wrapping and mailing them until became a funny recurrence that we often laughed about. He was a very smart man and accomplished some amazing things as mentioned by others but to me he was just my big brother. In my last conversation with him a couple weeks before he passed we shared many things. He was very much alive and in good spirits that day and I was able to tell him what he meant to me. We  talked for over an hour and I will always remember his laugh and how he told me he loved being my big brother and I told him how important he was to me. I hope to visit his final resting place, when travel restrictions allow, and plant some flowers and then quietly sit and look out over Mount Tamalpais and remember all the good times.

Sue Stinson