Virginia Anne Ducharme Thompson


Virginia Thompson of Lakebay died January 3. She was 99 years old.

Daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, grandmother, great-grandmother, friend. Writer, painter, teacher. Virginia was all of these and more. 

She was born in Gowrie, Iowa, in 1923, the eldest of four and daughter of a banker and homemaker. She had fond memories of playing Tarzan in the streets of her small town and spending time on her uncle’s farm. 

Virginia graduated from the University of Iowa, spent an adventurous year working in Chicago, and then returned to Iowa to teach. She decided to get a teaching certificate and moved to Seattle to attend the University of Washington — she’d visited her aunt in the Pacific Northwest and was ready to leave Iowa for the mountains and salt water. It was there she met Ray Thompson, who would become her lifelong love and partner. They built a life over the next 54 years, until his death in 2002. 

She taught high school English and art until the first of four children was born. The family moved frequently in the early years for Ray’s work — from Seattle to Washington, D.C., Tacoma, Alabama, and finally back to Seattle again — and with each move Virginia created home, security and belonging for their family of six. They bought property on the Key Peninsula in 1958 and built a weekend getaway. When her kids were launched, she co-designed and taught a course at Seattle Community College, “Art for Institutions,” at a time when art therapy was in its infancy. In 1974, with Ray’s pending retirement, they built their dream house and made Lakebay their home. They dove into the community and their church and traveled extensively.

When Ray died Virginia forged her life as a widow. She wrote daily, often to Ray. She traveled to New York and South Africa with her daughters. She found meaning and solace in work with church and local organizations. She was part of the group that built the Key Peninsula Health and Professional Center, read with students at Evergreen Elementary, was an early volunteer at The Mustard Seed Project, and she joined Two Waters Arts Alliance in its first year.

Virginia’s creativity knew no bounds. She painted always. When she moved to Lakebay, she joined a writer’s group through the local library and published a set of essays, “I am Positive and Negative Spaces.” She read widely — poetry, essays, fiction, philosophy. She was an unabashed liberal, a lover of the underdog and a champion for social justice. 

Virginia leaves behind her brothers John and Richard (Vicki); children Sara (Richard Gelinas), Cappy, Molly (Joe Casalini) and Peter (Patrice); nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.  

A memorial service was held January 28. Donations in her honor can be made to St. Hugh of Lincoln Episcopal Church, Two Waters Arts Alliance, or The Mustard Seed Project of Key Peninsula.