Remembering Mrs. Helen Thompson

Thompson1961Mrs. Helen Thompson, center, with students, in a photo from The Somerset Hills Exponent, May 25, 1961.

I’ve written about my favorite teacher from the Bedminster Township grade school twice before, a little in my article on our school newspaper and magazine, which she ran, and more in my article on the school itself. Mrs. Thompson taught English to my brothers and I in grades 6-8, and we all worked on the school publications doing art and, in my case, writing stories. I remember her as smart, entertaining in class, and very encouraging to me as a young artist and writer. Others remember that she was also a heavy smoker, and I’ve long wondered about how that might have affected her career and life. New information has come to light recently, so I thought I’d share it here.

While I spent lots of time with Mrs. Thompson in and after class, I knew nothing about her personal life except what little ran in the 1965 graduation issue of The Bed-Post, as part of a guessing-game called “Spotlight on People.” Mrs. Thompson was the subject of this entry:

ThompsonSpotlightWhile I saw Mrs. Thompson occasionally when I had moved on to High School in Bernardsville, NJ (when my school bus would stop at the Bedminster School to pick up more students), I lost touch with her at some point in that time. Recently my youngest brother Russ found some copies of the school publications from his grades 6-8 in 1968-70, and entries there filled in some of the gaps in my knowledge. from The Bedminster Tribune of Oct. 27, 1969:

ThompsonBestWishesAs you can see, Mrs. Thompson was out sick in the fall of 1969. I have no information on what the illness may have been, but I suspect that she did not return to the school. In the Spring, 1970 issue of The Bed-Post, this editorial by Ellen Burden appeared:

ThompsonDedicAs you might guess, Mrs. Thompson had passed away before the issue saw print, and with help from Patricia Bankowski, I now have her obituary from March 19, 1970:

Helen Thompson Obit 03191970I may have heard about this from my parents at the time, but if so, I had forgotten it, so it’s good to have that long-lingering question of what happened to Mrs. Thompson answered. The issue of The Bed-Post this appeared has replaced Mrs. Thompson’s long-standing credit as Advisor with “Acting Advisor: Mrs. Stout,” and the following year the Advisor credit went to a new English teacher at the school, Mr. Melovitz.

As noted in the obituary, Mrs. Thompson had no children. Her husband, J. Miller Thompson continued to live in Bedminster, and died in 1992 after remarrying a Mary E. Nevius, who died in 2000.

 

2 thoughts on “Remembering Mrs. Helen Thompson

  1. Patty Hartmannsgruber

    I attended Bedminster Elementary School from 1962-1969, when my family moved to Levittown, NY. My father is the minister who officiated at Mrs. Thompson’s funeral. That is probably why I have in my memory that Mrs. Thompson died of lung cancer soon after we left Bedminster. I had her for English in 6th grade and remember her well. Thank you for your post about her. Although I must evilly point out that she never would’ve permitted you to use the phrase “…taught English to my brothers and I.” The correct grammar is “…taught English to my brothers and me.” I learned that from Mrs. Thompson, and have always remembered it, even in this age of great fear of using the word ‘me’ as the object of a sentence. More correct examples of ‘me’ as the object of a sentence (not ‘I’):
    “She made dinner for Nancy and me.”
    “Please turn in your permission slips to Mr. Stout or me.”
    It is rare anymore to see ‘me’ used correctly, even in the newspaper, quoting educated people.
    OK — end of grammar rant. Thank you for your blog. I am greatly enjoying the Bedminster info, and so are my 2 sisters, who also attended Bedminster School. ~~ Patty Crumley, Class of 1971

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