• Fri. Sep 30th, 2022

Marion H. Thompson was much like a dozen lighthouses, a guide for those adrift

Arrangements for the Memorial Service and Celebration of Life for Marion Thompson formerly of Cincinnati, who died September 5, 2022, at Wilshire Estates in Silver Spring, Maryland are Saturday October, 1, 2022, 11 a.m. at the Church of the Resurrection Catholic Church (formerly St. Agnes),1619 California Ave., Cincinnati, Ohio 45237

You can send flowers and expressions of sympathy to the Church of the Resurrection. 

A memorial fund named in her honor is being planned. More details will follow. 

Renfro Funeral home will handle the service. It will be live streamed and can be watched at any time. 

A repast and reception will follow the service. Details will be given at the church.

For questions call 513 313-1313 or email to glovergirl.02@gmail.com. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.

The Family of Marion Thompson

By the Family of Marion H. Thompson

“Marion Thompson is much like the dozen or so lighthouses tucked in a corner curio of her Kennedy Heights home: a guide for those adrift in life’s bumpy seas, solace for the spiritless and a beacon of hope, powered by an energy within that seldom flickers or fades,” wrote Joy Kraft of The Cincinnati Enquirer about Marion Thompson, when Mrs. Thompson was nominated one of the Enquirer Women of the Year in 2003. “Whether lending an ear to a baby sitter, putting young minorities on the working track at major Cincinnati businesses, linking the over-55 crowd to computer skills or advising “second-time-around” grandparents, she’s described as ‘tireless,’ ‘passionate,’ ‘persistent,’ ‘zealous’ and ‘ever-kind,’ a combination that’s been magical for improving her community. ‘You need to do all you can to help as many people as you can for as long as you can, says the great-grandmother with the sweet smile and quiet-but­ tenacious way. She headed back to school full-time to earn a bachelor’s and a master’s, specializing in gerontology, her passion, after raising her own children – all the while volunteering, mentoring other’s kids and working. And as testament to her reputation as a dynamo, she did an about-face after retiring in 1991 as director of volunteer services with Cincinnati Area Senior Services and director of senior employment for the Council on Aging and tackled two new projects: counseling older adults and coordinating a grandparents support group. That’s in addition to time put in with the symphony, Cincinnati Art Museum, Urban League, Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs, Towne Club, United Way, Community Chest and St. Agnes Church.”

Born July 20 1930, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Mary Elizabeth Gill and Edward Harris, Cincinnati native  Marion Thompson lived in Kennedy Heights. She was married to the late William Thompson, first African American assistant warden of the Hamilton County jail. They had two children: Larry Thompson, educational administrator, Jacksonville, Fla.; Sherry T. Scott, marketing and communications professional, Cincinnati, two grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

She earned a Bachelor’s Degree, the Union Institute (1976), and a master’s, University of Cincinnati (1980)

She retired as director of volunteer services with Cincinnati Area Senior Services and then worked part time as a counselor with Catholic Social Services of Greater Cincinnati and as coordinator for a grandparents’ support group with Mercy Connections, Walnut Hills.

She once said a quote made by George Washington Carver was the best advice she ever got: “How far you go in life depends on you being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant with the weak and strong. Because someday in life you will have been all of these.”  

She said her drive to help the elderly came from being raised in a home with her grandparents in Walnut Hills with three generations living together – her mother, grandparents, two brothers and a sister.

“They were solid folks, Christians, believing in hard work, and touched all the foundation blocks that get you through life. I could never do enough for them when they got older. I feel such a responsibility and tenderness for the elderly because of them.

Her first job was as a volunteer in high school at a nursing home, the Women’s Home on Chapel Street in Walnut Hills. But as an adult, she first worked at General Hospital (now University) at a post-surgical patient information desk.

She once said, “I do believe I have been directed by the Lord to do my work. When the Lord blesses you with abundance, you need to give back. It doesn’t have to be big. You can touch people’s lives in so many small ways … with encouragement, by listening.” That is what brought her out of retirement, she said. “I was home a short time and said, ‘This isn’t working for me.’ There’s so much needed in the community. I saw that I could still make a difference.’”

Mrs. Thompson called those grandparents raising children the “Second Time Around” group. They are very strong and they have some physical and mental problems. But that may be what gives them energy to do it. They’ve developed such coping skills. By then you are calmer.

Once asked what’s the key to enjoying the senior years, she answered, saying, “Staying open, keeping your mind alert, being involved. Get involved with your community, church, neighborhood. Work in some capacity.’’

She was also asked about the biggest problem for the seniors you see? She said, “For a lot of minorities, it is’s financial. Money can alleviate some of the problems. Then there are medical and physical problems. They just don’t know where to go to get help. You have to find them sources in the community.’’

Her biggest challenge, she said, was made easier when she was able to get everyone get on board with Friendly Visitors (a program that partners with homebound seniors and visitors), soliciting churches and volunteers. And all the companies, like P&G and Cincinnati Bell (part of the program placing young minorities in the workplace), it was amazing what you could get people to do. Even working with different agencies with the Council on Aging, it was so wonderful that they wanted to collaborate and be part of a community project. I put together the first computer program, a 12- week course for the elderly, in the mid-’80s with Cincinnati Technical College and the Cincinnati Institute for Career Alternatives helping with money, transportation and teaching. All the graduates were able to get entry-level jobs because of that kind of cooperation.”

She had said her most satisfying project was helping seniors get employment, “because we have a lot of well elderly, and it was back when people realized the value of having an older worker. I was always able to sell them on the fact that they (the elderly) had good work ethics and proven work skills. It was really rewarding when they (employers) realized these people would show up even when others didn’t. And it helped them supplement their income. They thought seniors couldn’t do this. We proved them wrong.

“I’d call myself a trailblazer. I looked at gerontology and knew, because of the growing population, that it would be a fast-growing field and that these people would need an advocate. It was uncharted ground, kind of retooling the elderly, like the computer program. Many of the elderly thought they were finished, and I said, ‘Hey, you have a lot to offer.’”

The late Shelia Adams, when President/CEO of the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati in 2003, wrote in her recommendation for Mrs. Thompson to be considered as an Enquirer Women of the Year that, “Mrs. Thompson’s confluence as a social worker and older adult counselor, fortunately, comes ‘tightly packaged’ as a lady who is youthful-minded, wonderfully friendly, and a most caring human being. She shines with a humility that understands her true intellectual brilliance, chronological age and vast knowledge.”

America Online contributed to this article.

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