Henrietta Leonora “Nonie” Kempner Thompson, age 97, died at home on September 14, 2010.
She was born August 5, 1913 in Galveston, Texas, the youngest of five children of Isaac Herbert and Henrietta Leonora Blum Kempner and the grandchild of Harris and Eliza Kempner and Aaron and Cecile Blum. She graduated from The Baldwin School in 1930 and attended Vassar College until 1932. She married Edward Randall Thompson MD in 1934 and had three children: Edward Randall (Tim) Thompson, Peter Kempner Thompson, and Rhoda Thompson Ezell. She is pre-deceased by her husband, Edward Randall Thompson MD; her brothers, Harris L. Kempner and I.H. Kempner Jr.; her sisters, Cecile Blum Kempner and Lyda Kempner Quinn; her son, Edward Randall (Tim) Thompson; and her granddaughter, Jennifer Leonora Ezell.
Nonie’s extended family was sizeable, including the descendants of Dr. and Mrs. James Edwin Thompson and the families of Mr. and Mrs. I.H. “Denny” Kempner III, Mr. and Mrs. James C. Kempner, Mr. and Mrs. Harris L. “Shrub” Kempner Jr., Mrs. Lyda Ann Thomas, Mr. and Mrs. Michael Guttersen, Mrs. Harris Weston, Mr. and Mrs. Dominick Sasser, Mr. and Mrs. Dan Kempner Thorne, Mr. and Mrs. Robert L.K. Lynch, Ms Deborah Lynch, Ms Kathleen Lynch, Mr. Dan Oppenheimer, Mr. Harris K. Oppenheimer, Mr. D. Stuart Godwin III, Mr. Stanley Blum Jr., Mr. and Mrs. Richard Ullman, Mrs. Ann Hamilton, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Roberts, Mr. and Mrs. Alex Weisberg, Jr., Mrs. Claire O'Malleyand her Godchildren Mrs. Betsy Morris Katz, and Mrs. Elena Swann.
Proud of being “BOI,” Nonie was a lifetime resident of Galveston. She volunteered and served as Board Member and/or Officer of a wide variety of local health and welfare organizations, including the American Cancer Society, American Red Cross, Public Health Nursing Service, Rosenberg Library, St. Mary’s Hospital, Salvation Army and United Way. The Texas City Disaster found her on-site supporting the wounded and grieving families. She was one of the organizational members of the Child Development Center, Galveston County Community Action Council, Junior League of Galveston, Operation Head Start and the Pirate Investment Club.
Her early acting and back-stage responsibilities in local theatre organizations and her interest in historic preservation led to her deep commitment to the restoration and future of The Grand 1894 Opera House as well as continuing support for the work of the Galveston Historical Foundation.
Nonie was appointed as a Board Member of the Harris and Eliza Kempner Fund in 1957. For many years she served as Trustee/Secretary; in 1987 she became Chairman and the Chairman Emeritus in 1990. She was active in the Conference of Southwest Foundations and was elected their President in 1986. Two years later, she served on the Planning Committee for the National Council on Foundations and coordinated the first major session devoted to Family Foundations. In that organization, she was the driving force to create workshops educating the young philanthropists and new trustees. In 1992 the Conference of Southwest Foundations honored her with its Founders Spirit Award.
She has been the recipient of several local honors from the American Cancer Society, the Galveston Historical Foundation, and The Grand 1894 Opera House. She was the first recipient of the Community Enrichment Award from The Grand. She also received the United Way of Texas Volunteer Award and the Steel Oleander Award from Galveston Historical Foundation. She enjoyed the friendship of the many staff and volunteer workers at the various organizations with whom she worked.
Nonie’s favorite exercise was badminton, which she played regularly until she retired from the sport at age 90. She and her badminton group played at the Galveston Garten Verein, and they played a large role in the continued restoration of that historic structure.
Her passion for fishing was developed with her husband, Eddie, and together they spent many hours and vacations pursuing that interest. She was nearly 90 years old when she took her last offshore fishing trip and landed the largest king mackerel of the day. A fishing trip was invariably followed by the gathering of friends to celebrate with her now famous “Pinkie” drink. In the days before social networking websites, Nonie welcomed generations of islanders and visitors to the back room at 1516, for networking, FAWAing and good cheer.
Nonie is survived by her son, Peter K. Thompson MD and his wife, Nancy (Texas); daughter, Rhoda T. Ezell (Ohio); and daughter-in-law Elga B. Thompson (Texas). She is also survived by her grandchildren Timothy E. Thompson (Texas); Stephanie M. Thompson (Illinois); Kimberly T. Laughton and her husband, Steven B. Maupin (California); Todd K. Thompson and his wife, Elisa E. Mason (Massachusetts); Brooke P. Thompson and his wife, Belinda Morales (Texas); Larry E. Ezell II and his wife, Jennifer (Georgia); Melissa E. Allen and husband, David (Kentucky). Nonie’s 13 great-grandchildren and two step-great-grandchildren include: Adam G. Thompson, Ben E.P. Thompson, Finn E. K. Thompson, Kurt S. Maupin, David T. Laughton, Kate M. Laughton, Heidi L. Maupin, Mark P. Laughton, Theo E.M. Thompson, Nicolas D. Thompson, Mia E.M. Thompson, Hutch Ezell, Maggie L. Ezell, Robbie E. Allen and Bryson W. Allen.
Her family would like to thank Celia Corley-Davis, Lise Darst, Diane Duzich, Victor Lang, Dennis Miller and her many devoted friends and family members whose visits and companionship have been an essential part of her life. In recent years, their daily visits were the highlight of her day. Nonie and her family extend a special thanks to Lula Mae Davis whose 50 years of help and loyalty has been truly valued. Nonie and her family deeply appreciate the ongoing care and support given by Dr. Victor Sierpina. Pearl Woods was especially helpful in re-settling Nonie back in Galveston after Hurricane Ike. We all greatly appreciate the excellent care offered by the staff of caregivers: Alisa Blakeman, Shermona Jones, Lucinda Moore, Gail Nicholas, Shirleen Owens, Jeanie Sandlin, Nicole Ward and Yvonne Wilson from Home Instead who worked hard to make her last years better and which made it possible for her to stay in her home until the end. Her final days were made easier by the care of Hospice Care Team, Inc. and we thank them for their compassionate support.
Following the example set by her husband, Nonie has donated her body to medical education/research.
A celebration of her life will be held at The Grand 1894 Opera House at 4:00 PM on Monday October 4, 2010 with Jimmy Kessler officiating. Following the services, there will be a gathering at the Opera House.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be given to your charity of choice or to organizations that meant much to Nonie: The Grand 1894 Opera House, Galveston Historical Foundation, United Way of Galveston and University of Texas Medical Branch of Galveston.
The addresses for the charities are: The Grand 1894 Opera House 2020 Post Office, Galveston, TX 77550; Galveston Historical Foundation 502 20th Street, Galveston, TX 77550; United Way of Galveston P.O. Box 2250, Galveston, TX 77553; and University of Texas Medical Branch of Galveston, Development Office, 301 University Blvd., Galveston, TX 77555-0148.