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Mary Emma (Gillson) Thompson

October 14, 1933 ~ April 5, 2018 (age 84)

Mary Thompson


WESTFIELD - Dr. Mary Emma (Gillson) Thompson passed away at 11:31 a.m. on Thursday, April 5, 2018 at Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center.


Dr. Mary Emma Thompson was born near Paris on October 14, 1933, the daughter of Fred M. and Velma (Britton) Gillson.  She married George E. Thompson on August 5, 1950.  He died on August 10, 1959.


Survivors include two sons, Anthony “Tony”, wife Becky of Douglasville, GA and Gary, wife Jeanne, Independence, MO, and one daughter, Mary R. “Bobbi” Harris, Manito, IL, eleven grandchildren, twenty-three great-grandchildren.


She was preceded in death by her parents, two brothers, William and Frederick and three sisters, Eva, Roseina, and Zanita Curtis, a granddaughter: Michelle Taylor.


Dr. Thompson graduated from Westfield High School in 1951.  She received her Associate of Arts Degree from Palm Beach Junior College, Florida in 1965 and her Bachelor of Science Degree from Florida Atlantic University in 1966.  She completed her Master of Education and her Specialist in Education in 1975 and 1978 at Eastern Illinois University and her Ph.D. from Indiana State University in 1985.  She also took classes at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Western Illinois University.


Dr. Thompson taught in elementary schools in Key West, Florida and Pearl, Illinois before returning to Westfield, where she served as an administrator and teacher in the Westfield and Casey Westfield School Districts until her retirement in 1992.  She continued to work as School Improvement Coordinator for the district until 1995.  Dr. Thompson was a 4H leader and was active in PTA and the Education Associations at Pearl.  As a member of The Kappa Delta Gamma Society International, an honorary women’s educators’ association, she received three state scholarships, attended numerous state and international conventions and regional conferences, and served as state editor for eight years.  When she attended the Leadership Management Seminar in Austin, TX, she was introduced to Depression Era are in post offices.  Thus began a new career which involved visiting all the post offices with Depression Era art in Illinois and some of the art in post offices in other states, researching the art, presenting slide lectures and working toward producing documentaries and writing books about the art in Illinois including A Guide to Depression Era Art in Illinois Post Offices and seven Let’s Look For books about different topics such as Lincoln, Farming, and Industry.  She was responsible for the recovery of the Herrin mural and assisted with the restoration of the Park Ridge mural.  She was active with Habitat for Humanity, and was known as Drywall Mary, and was also a volunteer with the Wall Dogs, to repaint murals on the sides of buildings.


Dr. Thompson was also a member of Phi Delta Kappa, the Clark County Retired Teachers Association, the Illinois Retired Teachers Association, and The New Deal Preservation Association.  She served as treasurer for 13 of the 16 years she served on the Clark County 708 (Mental Health) Board.  She was a member of First Church of Christ, Scientist, Charleston, which became the Christian Science Society and the Mother Church, Boston.


Dr. Thompson was a devoted mother and grandmother and often traveled to see them when they could not take time to visit her.  She enjoyed reading, sewing, and traveling.


Memorials may be made to The Marion Medical Mission.


The Celebration of her Life will be held at 3:00 p.m. Sunday, April 15, 2018 at the Caudill-King Funeral Home, Charleston.  Burial will follow in Mound Cemetery, Charleston.  Visitation will be Saturday evening from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the funeral home.

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