At the age of 94, Donald Hugh Thompson passed away peacefully at St. Josephs Hospital in Comox on April 11, 2015.
Don was pre-deceased by his wife Jeannie Marie (2002), son Donald Michael (2008) and younger brother Henry (2013). He is lovingly remembered by his daughter Penny (Doug) Macfarlane, son Jim Thompson, grandchildren Evan Thompson, Lia (Sean) Threlfall, and Bryan (Dawn) Macfarlane as well as great-grandchildren, Lauren, Colin, Jack, and Paige.
Don was born in Cheshire, England in 1920. He attended Shrewsbury School in Shopshire from a young age and after his studies worked at the family business, Lion Saltworks, in Northwich. With the onset of the Second World War he joined the Royal Air Force at age 20. A trip to Winnipeg in 1943 for flight training forever changed his life as he met Jeannie. Don saw action in the Pacific theatre as a captain of a B-24 Liberator. He remained in touch with his entire crew for the rest of his life. Twins Michael and Penny were born in 1947, and after 18 months in England the family moved to Canada.
Don moved to Alert Bay in 1955 and founded Alert Bay Air Services. He was a coastal aviation pioneer and was much loved as a mentor as he launched the careers of many pilots including his son, Michael. His son, Jim, was born in 1957 and Don reflected on those years in Alert Bay as the best in his life.
The past 30 years were spent in Campbell River with Jeannie and on the farm in Black Creek with Jim, where he stayed active nurturing raspberry, lettuce, and tomato plants, digging in the garden, and sawing and hauling wood. He delighted in the wonderful people he met in those communities.
His early boarding school training taught him the importance of a written letter. Don communicated with pilots, friends, and family around the world with beautiful letters where he shared his thoughts and observations. Nothing pleased him more than to receive a letter and to reply immediately. His yellow foolscap paper and writing table was known as “command central”. Don’s other love was music especially Dixieland Jazz and he enjoyed playing his trombone on many occasions.
A life well lived. Don was a gracious gentleman with a megawatt smile and a hearty laugh. He knew how to have fun and enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
A Celebration of Life will be held June 19 at 2:00pm at the Maritime Heritage Center in Campbell River, 621 Island Highway. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Amnesty International or the David Suzuki Foundation.