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Obituaries » Tom R. Thomson

Tom R. Thomson

November 7, 1918 - February 9, 2017

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Dr. Tom Radford Thomson died Thursday, February 9, 2017, surrounded by his family at his Sonoma, CA home.  A professor emeritus and author, Dr. Thomson was born in Hachiman, Japan in 1918.  He was the youngest child of Bernard Hilary Thomson, a British hotelier and travel writer, and Kei Hayami, the chief operator of the Osaka Phone Company.  He was the grandson of the Rev. Professor J. Radford Thomson, Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of London, and Yanai Hayami, a decommissioned samurai official.

In 1919 he immigrated with his parents and five siblings to the United States where they settled in Alameda, California.  In 1925 at the age of seven he, along with 1000 of California’s most intelligent children, was accepted into the Terman Gifted Children program at Stanford University.  Nicknamed ‘Termites’, the program has been following their lives and careers in a longitudinal study ever since.  He was among the last surviving subjects of the study.

He graduated from Alameda High School in 1935 and entered the University of California, Berkeley at the age of sixteen where he graduated in 1939 with a B.Sc. in organic chemistry.  He studied for his M.Sc. at the University of Washington in Seattle and received his Ph.D. from Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas in 1946.

That same year he married June Tucker. the daughter of Leonard Jones and Mary Randall Tucker of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  Upon his wife’s college graduation the couple moved to Alamosa, Colorado where he served as the Chairman of the Chemistry Department at Adams State College.  The couple was blessed with the birth of their five children there.

In 1961 he was appointed Full Professor of Chemistry at Arizona State University and moved his family to Scottsdale, Arizona where he resided until his retirement to Sonoma in 1984.  The textbooks he authored during sabbaticals in Palo Alto, California were produced by Addison-Wesley, the noted academic publishers located in the Stanford Industrial Park.

Upon retiring Dr. Thomson became a consultant to a law firm specializing in suits involving the use of dangerous chemicals.  His remarkable teaching ability allowed him to explain to both judge and jury the often complex reactions involved.  His unimpeachable credentials made him a highly sought after expert witness.

A life long proponent of physical activity, he practiced yoga for more than fifty years and reluctantly gave up his daily swim at the age of ninety-five. In retirement he traveled widely and  became an accomplished watercolorist.  He was a member of the Christian Science Church in Sonoma, the Sonoma Valley Grange #407 and the American Chemical Society.

Dr. Thomson is survived by his wife of seventy-one years, June, and his five children: Randi Thomson and her husband Kenneth Story of Richmond, Gina M. of Flagstaff, AZ, Marcus R. T. of Sonoma, Channing L. of San Francisco, Warren L. and his wife Mary Blakley of West Los Angeles, and his foster son, Eric D. Butler of Bay Village, Ohio.  He is also survived by his three grandchildren: Carlos S. Kronen of San Francisco, Dr. M. Raquel Kronen of Claremont and Harper B. Thomson of West Los Angeles.

The family wishes to acknowledge his caregiver Rosario Oliver and Hospice by the Bay for their unfailing support. Donations to Pets Lifeline in Sonoma would be appreciated.

Friends and Family are invited to the visitation Wednesday, February 15, 2017 from 1PM to 4PM at the Adobe Creek Funeral Home, 331 Lakeville St., Petaluma.  Private interment, Valley Cemetery, Sonoma, California.