Lois Florence Leone Thompson has died at age 90 due to complications from a cerebrovascular accident. She was born on June 27th,1930 at home on a farm near Argos, Indiana to Allen Hilder and Maude Inez Frevert Eastlund. She had trouble with her name all her life and often gave the explanation: “My parents named me Florence Leone after a hired girl, but my sibs Eunice, Ed, Olive, Charles, Lillian and Gladys thought that name too long for a baby and began to call me Lois. In third grade a martinet type teacher named Miss Becker insisted on calling me Florence. I did not know that was me, and when I did not respond, she scolded me sharply and marked me down on deportment, even posting my bad score on the door of the classroom for all to see. When I could legally make my name Lois I did it to honor her and with relief for me.” Surviving is Sib Dorothy Robinson of Indianapolis. All others, including Eunice Kindig of San Jose, CA, Ed Eastlund of Plymouth, IN, Olive Rynearson of Rochester, IN, Charles Eastlund of Albert Lea, MN and Gladys Camp of Las Vegas Nevada. In addition husbands Robert Willard Thompson who she married on May 28th, 1955 and Russell Francis Whaley who she married on December 31st, 1970 have preceded her in death.
She is survived by her four natural children William Gerard Thompson of West End, NC, Robert Gerard Thompson of Norfolk, VA, Leone (Nona) Gerard Thompson of Portland, OR and M Gerard Thompson of Brooklyn, NY. Also surviving is her ‘daughter’ Hongyu Gui aka Angela of Campbell, CA.
Lois graduated from Rochester, Indiana High School in 1948, from Indiana University School of Nursing in 1951, and earned a B.S. In education from Oregon State University in 1970, an MPH from University of Pittsburgh in 1974 and all but dissertation for a PhD in higher education from University of Pittsburgh. She also attended University of Oregon and University of Minnesota. Lois was licensed to practice nursing in IN, CA, OR and PA.
Lois had a 25-year career at Slippery Rock University where she was an Associate Professor in Health Sciences. She was an Exchange Professor to Shanghai International Studies University in 1993. She considered it her great good fortune to travel to many countries. She told friends “I climbed from childhood poverty on a farm to become a highly educated professor and a world traveler with the vital help of many kind people.”
Lois Thompson had a mission to repay the kindness bestowed on her by giving her time and efforts to many different causes. Her memories of critically injured or ill patients delivered by primitive emergency care funeral vehicles to emergency rooms where she worked created for her a lifelong mission to improve ambulance care. She was active for many years in the development of Emergency medical services in Southwestern PA serving on the regional EMSI board chairing the Butler EMS Council and serving as a volunteer instructor for EMTs and EMT lay instructors. She became a first responder by joining the Slippery Rock Fire Department where she was an active member of rescue work, even crawling through a simulated burning building as part of her orientation to fire department rescue work.
Another major interest for Lois was nursing care for homebound patients which she did as an RN provider for the Oregon Home Health Care Program. In PA she helped found the Butler County Visiting Nurse Association and served on its board for many years. Lois was a 10-year member of the Butler PA United Way and she served on committees for the PA Health Services Planning Commission. She was a faculty member and board member of the Butler chapter of the American Heart Association, a member of the Butler chapter of the American Red Cross, and a Board of Directors member of the Butler PA chapters of the Mental Health Association. Her picture was often published for her advocacy and teaching of CPR.
Lois was never a believing member of a religious organization or church. She told her family and a few friends, “I tried all my life, from Sunday school as a child to serious attempts as an adult, to believe in God and I never could honestly do it. When I was 21, critically ill with death expected, I refused last rites from a Catholic priest I respected and loved, telling him ‘if God wants me, He must let me walk in the front door for I will not sneak in the back door’.” Thus, she lived most of her life as a moral, kind, and friendly community atheist.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Association for the Visually Impaired 260 Old Nyack Turnpike Spring Valley, New York 10977 OR The Southern Poverty Law Center 400 Washington Avenue Montgomery, Alabama 36104.