From Sonya Sanchez
Welcoming and Kind
Hello Janice: Our family was part of Quaker Meeting for a number of years. Al was also so welcoming. He always made a point of talking to my Husband OJ and I and sharing a kind and welcoming word with our son Dashiell and daughter Aria. We will always think of Al and your Family fondly and will strive to carry on his teachings of warmth, kindness and a Light humor. Warmest Regards, Sonya
From Susan Strong
Of the many good deeds I recall Al doing while I knew him, I especially appreciate his and Janice’s help for Robin Standish, after her husband Dick died and she began having severe back trouble. They continued to support and visit her throughout her various changes in residence and health challenges.
From Janet Piggins
I always enjoyed talking to Al after Meeting in the courtyard at BTech. He was often standing on one side with his coffee, looking down as he talked to someone, because he was so tall. He would occasionally ask me: "Why aren't you a member of the Meeting?" After enough times of being asked that question, it became kind of a joke. But after a couple of years, I no longer had a good answer for it. "I guess it's time to join the Meeting, then," I said to myself... and so I did, about 3 years ago, Thanks for the push, Al ! Some interesting family history: Al's sister Edy told a few stories demonstrating how Al was a ‘whiz-kid’ early on: The Thompson family's first television, back in the early 1950s, wasn't purchased from a store -- it was assembled by Al and his engineer father out of spare parts they had! And a few years later, probably in the 1960s, Al bought a bunch of defective transistor radios on the cheap; they'd been returned to a department store. He got them all working, and then gave (or sold?) them to friends. Al demonstrated maturity for me; though he faced serious challenges in his later years, I will remember him as always kind and gracious.
From Philippa Barron
Al made it his personal mission to get me and others -- longtime attenders of Strawberry Creek Meeting -- to take the plunge and become members of the Meeting. I don't know why it took me so long to become a member -- small children, work demands, simple procrastination? -- but he made it his mission and it became an inside joke between us. Once or twice a year he would appear at my elbow after Meeting, juggling a plate and a cup of coffee, and say something like, "Philippa, this is my semi-annual reminder to you that you should become a member of Strawberry Creek. Will you consider it?" The twinkle in his eye, the effort he made to bend down a foot and a half to meet my eyes, the kindness inherent in thinking of me, are all precious memories. Thank you, Al, I did become a member eventually! I love you and I miss you.
From Renee Watkins
Long ago, when he was well, Al mentioned to me how much he valued the community of the Meeting, and that he would always go to memorial gatherings as a particular expression of that loyalty.
From Kris Muller
I am among the Strawberries gently nudged to membership by Al. In recent years as Wilbur's memory slipped, Al kindly reminded him of their enjoyable conversation while traveling to and from Quaker Center Board meetings. I looked forward to talking with Al; he listened so deeply, and responded always with kindness and thoughtfulness. He was fun to be around, with a quick sense of humor. I keep seeing him, then realize he is gone, much missed, having given us all so much: a feature in annual photo of Strawberries, Dime-a-Gallon Fund, thoughtful feedback in business meeting and so much more.
From Shelley Tanenbaum
Al’s brilliant mind was matched by his kind heart. He always had a creative new idea and he always had a smile for each of us. I got to know him as part of a long-running discussion group, called Ecoberries. We were named by someone outside of our group – we were mostly part of the Strawberry Creek Friends community (berries) and we focused our conversations and projects on ecology, economics and social justice (eco). Al was our spark. He came to us with fresh and sometimes quirky ideas. He came up with the ‘Dime-a-Gallon’ project (though maybe not the name) and we ran with it, sharing it with our Meeting as a way to become more aware of our energy footprint and explore ways to reduce our energy use. Some of his ideas were intriguing but we didn’t know what to do with them, like installing wind turbines at the Berkeley Marina. He was also a good listener, always willing to hear out each of us with our thoughts, ideas and plans. He loved many things: Janice, his work, his family and friends, nature, Quaker meeting, Ecoberries, and many other things that were outside my circle of knowing him. He strived towards inclusivity. We loved him – he was a beloved member of the Strawberry Creek Meeting community. Charlie and I spent an hour with him on his last day. Due to Covid and hospital rules, only a few people were able to visit at that time, so I felt like I was carrying all of the Strawberry Creek Meeting community with me to be with Al. He was mostly not conscious – maybe he saw us (unlikely), maybe he heard us, maybe he felt my hand on his bare arm. Did he notice the subtle beauty of the Eastbay hills outside his hospital room window? It was a glorious day – sunny, just a bit windy, warm. I felt the hills embrace him as he returned to earth. He is buried on another hillside near Mt. Tamalpais, a very short distance from another Ecoberry, Sandra. In our group, she was the fire to his spark, so I imagine them making all kinds of creative change in the world together.
From Sarah Hawthorne
For almost 20 years I've known Al through the Strawberry Creek Friends Meeting, where he actively worked to make our community more inclusive and welcoming. He initiated so many projects whose primary purpose was to knit us more closely together, e.g,. his insistence on annual group photographs, wearing name tags, and 9am Third Sunday worship sharing, which he made sure were well stocked with bagels and coffee. His high energy and big smile warmed every occasion, especially the Welcoming Committee and Eco-Berries. His Spirit of Joy still moves among us as we go forward into a future that he was always optimistic would be better.
From Bob Langfelder
Death be not Proud!
With out going into the details of the pain and suffering of Al’s last year of life, I think a lesson from Al’s last year is he would urge us to get affairs in order and say goodbyes to those closest to you before you health declines to a point you cannot do that. If death be not proud, there was much in Al’s life to be proud of.
From James Hosley
Al was a friendly guy. Al was a gentle giant. Al was a kind spirit, with a touch of melancholy. Al had some mild moodiness, but I don’t mean a dark mood. Usually, Al was “up” and had that twinkle in his eye. Yet, Al could be a bit pensive,..just out of reach, but still trying to stick with you, as you spoke to him. Sometimes, I could tell that he had something else on his mind when we talked. That “remote” location he came from was a gentle sign that he would have been content to just be quiet, so that he could think his thoughts. Al was someone you listened to. I had the sense that he had thought out what he wanted to present to you, prior to delivering his idea. Then, when you understood his line of thought, he would smile, wag his finger, and say something like, “that’s right”, or “exactly”. Otherwise, Al was comfortable with remaining quiet, and at the edge of any group conversation. He was multi-tasking, I’m sure. Al always had some “good" idea percolating. He would regularly toss-out some new thought, or pre-plan. He might bring that idea to you, and when he was done explaining it, he would have an expectation that you would either take it on yourself, or help him with it. Al helped others. He found people in need and tried to be there for them. He liked the children in his world. Al was very generous. Al seemed to be looking out for the “outsiders”, and generally spoke out for inclusiveness and an integrated community. If you were not yet a member, Al was happy to speak with you about your joining the community. Al had ideas for gathering and building, and in his gentle manner, he was a community organizer. Al was loyal, and a good guy to have on your team. I miss Al. AI was my friend, and I think that I was his friend. too.
From Barbara Birch
Al was one of the first Friend to welcome me to Strawberry Creek Meeting. I think I found out about the Worship-Sharing group at the first Meeting I attended and I looked forward to going to the Worship-Sharing right away. It did not disappoint. I don't remember what the query was but the worship and the sharing were heartfelt and honest. I found that to be true every time I attended the Worship-Sharing. Al put a lot of time and effort into the queries he brought. It was a great way to welcome new members. Later I got to know Al better when I joined the Welcoming and Inclusion Working Group. He was unfailingly optimistic, cheerful, kind, and patient at all times, even when it was clear that his health issues caused him discomfort. I will never forget seeing him sitting and chatting with the working group at Beth' sitting room. When I think of Al Thompson I think of the "fruit of the spirit"quote from Galatians 5. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."
From John McCarthy
Al was a pillar of our Strawberry Creek Friends Meeting. One of his major contributions was to help Strawberry Creek improve how we welcome newcomers, how we integrate new attenders into our community, and how we gently encourage attenders to become full members of our Quaker Meeting. For many years he led through example and later became a charter member of our informal Welcoming and Inclusion Working Group. That legacy will live on through the many Strawberries whose lives he touched and through those he inspired to carry on his tradition of cheerful outreach on into the future.
From Susan Black
I knew Al from Strawberry Creek Meeting. He was a good friend, always available to listen and always caring. His sense of humor and good will never left even during the last very difficult years. I will always cherish my friendship with him and miss him.
Al was always so kind and caring. We were co-clerks on the Mutual Care Committee, and as a newbie-clerk, I took strength his wisdom and groundedness. He had a delight in simple things, in knowing how things worked and in people as well. We have our Easter Sunday tradition of the Meeting photograph thanks to Al. He knew that those annual passages have great meaning. I will miss his gentleness, his curiosity, his good humor. I am grateful he is at peace.
I grew up knowing "big" Al. He was one of the neighbourhood kids. We went through high school and university together at UBC in Vancouver . Al was brilliant. I was always amazed at his varied interests not only math and physics, but he played tennis,he loved attending plays, operas ,dancing. Al's sis Edy trained as a nurse and lived in residence at VGH with about 300 nurse trainees .Al and Edy decided to have a party .....Al was responsible for coming ip with he guys and you guessed it Edy was responsible for Edy invited her nurse classmates. They had a number of parties over the years and we had much fun. Al was always easy to talk to and always ready to help out . He was very talented and had a great sense of humour. I have many happy memories of " big"Al. Rest easy Al. It was a pleasure knowing you and thanks . Lawrence
From Cindy Trueblood
Al’s presence in the life of Strawberry Creek Meeting can never be fully captured with words. His presence was manifested through the many ways that he touched our lives as individuals, with a smile, a friendly greeting, a meaningful conversation, and the many ways he contributed to the Meeting as a whole, through active participation in committees, Ecoberries, retreats, worship sharing, welcoming. We are a stronger and more deeply- connected community because of Al’s presence in our midst. He will be greatly missed AND we will continue to will feel and cherish his presence far into the future. Al’s presence is woven into the fabric of the Meeting in lasting ways. Thank you, Al!
From Rick Herbert
I am forever grateful that our lives crossed paths through our worship with the Strawberry Creek Quaker community. I am sure many have written about his gentle, kind, nature but I was always struck by his patience. Al knew I did not have the mathematical background to follow the logic of standard theory of the observable universe vs the multiverse theory currently widespread in the popular imagination. But he always faithfully and in good cheer answered my physics questions making me feel like I had grasped a little better the mystery of our cosmos. His light illuminated many. He will always be remembered and is sorely missed.
From Erik Wilson
I knew Al through Strawberry Creek Quaker Meeting. Al was brilliant, patient, cheerful and always fascinating to talk to after Meeting. I also appreciated how he reached out to newcomers and how he invited my college bound daughter for a tour of his research lab. That made a big impression on her and encouraged her to move forward with a career in engineering. Every year Al would organize a panoramic picture of the whole Meeting. In my mind I will always remember him pulling us all together to be in the big picture of the whole meeting - both figuratively and literally. He put things together and he put people together and he made us all better. We were all lucky to know him.
From Peter Trueblood
I really appreciated Al. I loved talking with him about science, Quakerism, peace and anything else that came up. While I have no doubt we agreed on politics, it was never something we discussed. I suspect he just preferred to stay positive. I wish I could be more like Al. When I was a child and asked my mother about an afterlife, her answer was very helpful to me. She said that she doubted the existence of a place we would all end up together but that really special people live on in our hearts and influence us to be better people so we can live on for others, and so on. Al fits into her model quite nicely. I think he will live on in many of our lives as we continue to navigate our reality.