Alice M. Thompson Was Devoted Minister's Wife
Alice May Thompson died in Portland, Me., on Sunday, August 11. The daughter of William Tongue and Emma Taber Tongue, Mrs. Thompson was born in Fall River on April 24, 1922. She spent her youth in North Tiverton, R.I., and was graduated from Durfee High School in Fall River.
On Nov. 11, 1941, she married the Rev. William M. Thompson, whom she had met when he was a student pastor at the Baptist Temple in North Tiverton. The couple lived briefly in New Rochelle, N.Y., and Jamestown, R.I.
The Rev. and Mrs. Thompson first came to the Vineyard in 1943, when he was called to serve as minister of both the Federated Church in Edgartown and the First Congregational Church in West Tisbury. The parsonage, which was located at various times on Clevelandtown Road in Edgartown and next to the pond on the east side of State Road in the center of West Tisbury, was always open to the congregation and to other members of the community. Mrs. Thompson especially enjoyed entertaining young school teachers who had recently arrived on the Island and who had few social ties here.
Both of Mrs. Thompson's children, Barbara Ann Thompson Manring of Great Barrington and W. Douglas Thompson of Portland and Oak Bluffs, were born on the Vineyard while she was a year-round resident. After moving to New Bedford in 1948, the Rev. and Mrs. Thompson returned to the Vineyard each summer for their vacations. In 1952 they purchased Respite, their Camp Ground cottage at 4 Trinity Park in Oak Bluffs. Mrs. Thompson spent all of her subsequent summers there until recent years, when failing health prevented her from making the trip. Respite is currently owned by her son and his family.
Mrs. Thompson deeply loved the social intimacy of the Camp Ground and walked Oak Bluffs and East Chop with her husband daily. She also valued the simplicity of traditional Camp Ground living and never had either a telephone or television in her cottage. Her one concession to modernization was to install hot water and a shower in the 1960s, when her children were working for several summers at Irene's Restaurant and Walmsley's Restaurant on Circuit avenue.
She loved cooking and baking, especially when she had Vineyard quahaugs, fresh-caught fish and wild blueberries to work with. Her neighbors on the Camp Ground were frequent recipients of a surprise treat such as quahaug chowder or blueberry slump. Mrs. Thompson's tour de force was the elaborate party she threw each summer on the night of the Grand Illumination. The cherry tarts that she made annually for that event were eagerly anticipated by the throngs who crowded into the small dining room of her cottage.
When not entertaining or walking, Mrs. Thompson could be found on any fair summer afternoon on the Edgartown side of State Beach, swimming tirelessly and enjoying the sun. She and her husband were part of a large circle of Camp Ground residents, many of them ministers and their families, who dubbed themselves the Marching and Chowder Society (the MACS) and who descended on State Beach 50 or 60 strong each afternoon.
In her off-Island life, Mrs. Thompson embraced with enthusiasm and sensitivity her role as a minister's wife. She supported her husband in that capacity at the United Church of New Bedford, the Edgewood Congregational Church in Cranston, R.I., St. Peter's Church in Chester Springs, Pa., and Zion's Congregational Church in Pottstown, Pa. For 14 years she traveled the state of Maine with her husband during his tenure as Conference Minister for the 250 congregations of the Maine Conference of the United Church of Christ. In Pennsylvania, she was a longtime volunteer at the Phoenixville Hospital.
Mrs. Thompson was predeceased by her brother, Merle Tongue, and her sister, Bernice Tongue Hopkins. In addition to her husband and two children, Mrs. Thompson is survived by three grandchildren: Audrey Yvonne Manring, Adam Douglas Thompson and Nathan Alexander Thompson. Her son in law and daughter in law are Roger W. Manring and Gail Strange Thompson. She is also survived by four nieces and two nephews.
A private family service is planned. Memorial donations may be made to the Maine Alzheimer's Association (163 Lancaster Street, Suite 160B, Portland, ME 04101; www.mainealz.org).