PETER CAIRNS THOMPSON, 91, passed away under Hospice care in his home at Mary’s Woods in Lake Oswego, on February 15, 2022, of kidney failure. He enjoyed life to its fullest, and met the challenges of aging with grit, grace, and gratitude.
Born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1930, his parents Robert and Davina raised him and brother James in their loving embrace, valuing good education, core values and fun. His young life was touched by wartime stress, with his father away fighting on European fronts for four years, and Peter being evacuated from the Glasgow bombings, to live in Lockerbie for two years.
At 18, Peter joined the Royal Navy, and that is when his journalism career began, as a designated Writer, aboard the M.S. Devonshire. After discharge, he joined the news staff of Reynolds News in Glasgow and London. Having succeeded in those endeavors, and craving new adventures, he emigrated to Canada in 1956 with his wife Meta (Reilly) and year old son, Mark. Their Canada years were enriched by the arrival of two daughters, Wendy and Lee. Peter was a devoted husband and father to his young family, and planned many adventures that enriched their lives. He served as editor of several newspapers in British Columbia, before coming to Portland to join the Oregon Journal staff in 1960. There he worked as a reporter, columnist, Assistant City Editor and City Editor, before being named Managing Editor of the Journal in 1980. Following the merger of the Oregon Journal with the Oregonian in 1982, Peter was named Managing Editor, leading the combined staffs of both newspapers and covering many important news events in our community and nation with competence and objectivity. He held that position until his retirement in 1992.
His three children born of his first marriage were the light of Peter’s life. When the marriage ended in divorce, Peter worked tirelessly to ensure their comfort, stability, and security. In 1973, Peter married Barbara Mann, whom he nurtured with love and devotion, until her death in 2000.
In 2001, while flying to Nice, France, Peter met a fellow passenger, Suzanne. A magical journey began immediately, and they quickly knew they wanted to stay in each other’s company forever. They married in 2002, and worked together to fill their marriage with love, happiness, family, friends, worldwide travel adventures, volunteering, and philanthropy.
Peter’s special gifts of intelligence, curiosity, concern for others, a positive outlook, a tender and generous heart, quick wit and a delightful sense of humor shone out into the world each day. He was a first-class punster who liked to make people laugh…an unforgettable character who brought joy to all who knew him. Favorite expressions of delight were: “Ain’t life grand?” and “What a laff it all is.” He was a lifelong golfer, and he loved crossword puzzles, reading daily newspapers, books, and all things History. His memory was razor-sharp, matched by his wealth of knowledge, and an ability to discuss or define whatever subject came before him.
Peter’s love of Portland and his desire to give back to his community led to his participation in the Oregon Historical Society, Urban League, Self Enhancement Institute, Bruce Baer Foundation, Senior Studies Institute, Neighborhood House Children’s Head Start, and Trinity Cathedral’s Outreach and Pastoral Care ministries.
He is survived by his wife Suzanne Spitler Thompson, his children Mark Thompson (Eden), Wendy (Kraig) Erickson, and Lee (Michael) Garone, granddaughters Chelsea Erickson, Alli (Tony) Jenson, Natalie Garone, Amelia Garone, and Kendra Thompson, and great-granddaughter, Lily Erickson Bouwman. The Thompson Family would like to express gratitude to Susan Herrera, Marylou Serrano, and the nurses of Serenity Supportive Services, and for their skilled and compassionate care of our beloved Peter.
A memorial service to celebrate Peter’s life will be held at 2:00 p.m. on THURSDAY, APRIL 7, 2022, at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral; 147 N.W. 19th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97209. Reception following. Masks and proof of vaccination required. Service will be live-streamed and provided through Trinity Episcopal Cathedral YouTube page, for those unable to attend.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Peter and Suzanne Thompson Fund at Oregon Community Foundation, or Trinity Outreach Ministries. If you prefer, just remember Peter with an act of kindness to a person or charity of choice, with a smile in remembrance of an unforgettable man who made this world a happier place.
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