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From the Columbia Flier (MD) November 20, 2001

Thompson explored through her teaching

Helen L. Thompson, a teacher and resident of Columbia , died Nov. 6 of congestive heart failure at Gilchrist Hospice Center in Baltimore . She was 85.

Mrs. Thompson was born Aug. 19, 1916, in Danville , Ill. , to John and Clara Satterwhite. She grew up on a farm and liked to explore the surrounding landscape with the family dog, Fritz. 

Her childhood adventures with Fritz were an early sign that Mrs. Thompson's travels would become more extensive in young adulthood.  

After attending college in Illinois , Mrs. Thompson worked for International Harvester, the manufacturer of the Scout line of recreational vehicles produced in the 1960s and '70s. Mrs. Thompson also worked at the California Institute of Technology, where she became accustomed to an academic environment.  

"Helen was the family intellectual and enjoyed working with all the bright people at Cal Tech " said Mike Phillips, her nephew.

Working as an administrative assistant at the institute may have been satisfying, but it was a poor substitute for Mrs. Thompson's true love: teaching. From her early 20s on, she taught.  

According to Mr. Phillips, his aunt was the youngest teacher on the staff at a small Illinois college where she was in the same age group as most of her students.  

Mrs. Thompson married Edward Thompson, a fellow Danvillian, in the early 1940s, but the couple divorced in 1959.  

In the early 1960s, Mrs. Thompson moved to France , fulfilling a dream of living in Europe . She always had wanted to visit France for its history and culture, and her genealogical discovery that she was related to Claude Monet, the French impressionist painter, increased her desire.  

She stayed in France for two years before moving to England after President Charles de Gaulle's anti-American sentiments became widely publicized. 

In England , Mrs. Thompson took a job teaching high-school-aged children of American military families at Lakenheath Royal Air Force Base. On her own time, she would take the students on field trips throughout England . She also encouraged them to meet and correspond with residents of local villages.  

In 1985, Mrs. Thompson returned to America to retire in Columbia , which had been suggested by Mr. Phillips for its proximity to New York , Baltimore and Washington , D.C. She actively volunteered at Lorien Nursing Home, where she would "pick out a couple of seemingly neglected elderly people and sort of adopt them " according to Mr. Phillips.  

Mr. Phillips also remembers as a child visiting his aunt with his three cousins during summer vacation.  

"She would take a week of vacation ... and rent a cottage on the beach " he said. "We would read, talk and explore the beach and wildlife. She always talked to us as people, not little kids, [and] encouraged us to think and discuss things."  

In addition to Mr. Phillips, Mrs. Thompson is survived by her sister Fay Flack of San Diego . She was predeceased by her brother, George Satterwhite, and sisters Mary Cutshaw and Ferne Phillips.  

Mrs. Thompson donated her body to science through the Anatomy Board of Maryland.