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Obituary of Michal L. Thompson
Michal Lewis Thompson, beloved father and retired photographer, passed away on June 10, 2020 at the age of 73 from cancer and other health complications. Family members surrounded him with loving farewells at his home in the final hours of his short battle with cancer. Born in Batesville, Arkansas on February 11, 1947 Michael was the second son of Catherine and Herbert Thompson, four years younger than their firstborn, Allan Thompson. The family moved around for a few years before settling down in Lawton, Oklahoma, where Michal had an active student career in theater and singing. He was sociable, well-liked, and what he lacked in height, he made up for in his kindness, integrity, and dry humor. From high school, Michal went on to the University of Oklahoma for three years before joining the Marines. While stationed in Hawaii, he picked up a camera and taught himself photography. After his time in the Marine Corps, one fellow service member claimed “Michal is the most civilized Marine I ever met”. Michal returned to the University of Oklahoma to earn a bachelors in journalism and a masters in human relations. Right out of college Michal jumped into photography as a staff photographer for a small newspaper in Texas. It was the start of a photojournalism career that spanned nearly four decades. In 1980 Michal moved to Hillsboro, Oregon with his newly wedded wife, Alice Thompson, to begin work as a staff photographer for a small local newspaper, the Hillsboro Argus. Though not a lucrative position, Michal enjoyed photographing and documenting the wonders of small-town life, quickly becoming the well-known and unofficial face of the newspaper. Many residents recognized Michal around town with his golf cap and camera, relating memories of his photos they had hanging in their homes. He had a way of capturing photo and story opportunities that won hearts and awards. His biggest award winning series was the touching narrative he wrote chronicling the adoption of his first two children from Guatemala, Sonta and Christopher Thompson, then later his third child, also from Guatemala, Marcial Thompson. Despite the unexpected surprise of two additional children, when they had intended to adopt just one child, Michal and Alice embraced their new family and worked through all the challenges it brought. Not an idle man, Michal accomplished much both professionally and personally. Just a few short years after settling in Oregon, Michal initiated and coordinated Project Day Shoot, pulling in over 90 photographers and journalists to document life in Oregon. The project culminated in the book, A Day in the Life of Oregon, and a month-long exhibit at the Oregon Historical Museum. He served as chairman of the National Press Photographers Association’s largest national monthly photo competition for five years. He photographed everything from fairs and proms to six presidents. Several of Michal’s photos were published in Life Magazine, and many of his publications won awards. In his last year at the Argus, 30 years after his Project Day Shoot, Michal updated the album with more photos he captured of the town he loved so much. The capstone of his career was an exhibit at the local library displaying photos he took throughout his career. Even with the demands of work and career, Michal found time for many personal interests and dedicated himself wholly to his family. He spent hours in his garden, worked on developing his wood carving skills, caught the latest movie, and took in concerts by the local symphony as often as possible. He was undoubtedly a family man, playing chess with his children and grandchildren, planning countless local outings and trips with various family members, and enjoying a wide variety of cuisine wherever he went with family and friends. He warmly welcomed all new family members as the family grew. Surviving members of Michal’s family include his wife, Alice Thompson, brother, Allan Thompson, and three children and three grandchildren. His oldest child, Marcial Thompson and his wife, Lidia Thompson, have two children, William and Henry Thompson and live in Washington. His daughter and middle child, Sonta Thompson, lives with her husband, Tristan McGrath, and their child, Milo, in Oregon. Michal’s youngest son, Christopher Thompson, lives with his wife, Carla in Indiana. Michal will be remembered fondly for his accomplishments and character. He was a career photographer, good writer, and hard-working man who displayed no end to his kindness, patience, and good humor. He had a penchant for puns, jazz and classical music, border collies, and biscuits and gravy. He was a small man with an enormous heart who will be forever missed and loved. A private funeral service will be held on Tuesday, June 16th for family and close friends at Valley Park Memorial Cemetery. A celebration of life will be held and publicize for all who wish to pay their respects at a later time.