Sara Louise Thompson, dean of the Mathematics & the Natural and Health Sciences Division at Palomar Community College, died of breast cancer Sept. 29 at her home in Carlsbad, Calif.
Although she was a talented artist, she found her true calling in education. In an evaluation, one of her students said, 'It was an honor to have her as my teacher,' and those who worked with her and shared her life as friends felt honored as well. Thompson was born in 1953, the youngest of Les and Frances Tracy Thompson's five children, in Oklahoma City. She graduated from high school at 16 and enrolled at the University of Oklahoma. When she turned 18, she moved to Chicago, where she became an activist in the early feminist and gay-rights movement, especially as staff artist for Lavender Woman newspaper, and took classes at the Art Institute of Chicago.
In 1975, she moved to San Diego, where she took up boogie-boarding with a will and, at the same time, earned a master's degree at San Diego State University ( SDSU ) . She spent a number of years doing research in cell biology at SDSU before starting her career as a teacher. In 1987, she fell in love with Karen Konecky, who quickly became a treasured member of the Thompson family. Together, they were active supporters of San Diego's gay-rights community.
During the 1980s Sara found an educational home at Palomar College ( located in San Marcos, Calif. ) , where she taught life sciences and served as vice president of the faculty senate. She was chair of the life sciences department before becoming acting dean of the Mathematics & the Natural and Health Sciences Division in 2004. It soon became clear that she was as good a dean as she was a teacher, dealing with students, faculty and staff with kindness, understanding, and fairness. She took over the position permanently in 2005 and was instrumental in the planning and construction of the new science building on the Palomar campus, which opened this fall.
Thompson is survived by Chicagoans Paul Thompson, her brother, and Kathleen Thompson, her sister.
When asked, shortly before she died, what she wanted people to remember about her, she said, 'That I was funny. That I made a difference. That I loved Karen, my family, and my friends.' Services were held Oct. 5 at the Howard Brubeck Theater at Palomar College. Donations may be made to the Sara Thompson Scholarship Fund, Palomar College Foundation, Office of Advancement, 1140 West Mission Road, San Marcos, Calif., 92069.Read more story below....