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January 6, 2003

Thompson was teacher of deaf children

From: San Antonio Express, TX - 06 Jan 2003

By Sherry Sylvester
San Antonio Express-News

Susan Shirley Thompson, a teacher of deaf children and the widow of the late Express-News columnist Paul Thompson, died Friday.

She was 82.

"Susan was an 'overcomer' who delighted in both the arts and theater," said her niece, Jane England.

England said her aunt passed away shortly after a fall.

Thompson was born in Kirksville, Mo., on Sept. 21, 1920 and graduated from Northeast Missouri State Teacher's College, now Truman University, also in Kirksville.

She moved to San Antonio in the 1950s following a divorce.

While rearing her two sons, William and Stephen Fitz, she completed a master's degree program in deaf education at Trinity University.

Thompson taught at Sunshine Cottage School for the Deaf for 25 years.

She met the legendary Express-News columnist at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, and they married in 1965.

Although Paul Thompson once referred to himself as "ornery" and "the last angry man," family members say the couple's marriage was the center of their lives.

"Paul called Susan the classiest woman he had ever known," England said. "You could see them giggling, laughing and teasing, although never in public."

Paul Thompson died of cancer in 1989, and her sons also were victims of fatal disease.

But when Susan Thompson was diagnosed with cancer in 1985, England said, she fought the illness and won.

"She knew it wasn't her time and believed she had to remain healthy in order to take care of Paul," England said.

Thompson believed a variety of techniques, including lip reading and sign language, are essential in instructing deaf children.

While furthering her education, she took several deaf children into her home to provide private tutoring.

She was active at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church and was a faithful Republican.

She is survived by her two sisters, Martha S. Beckwith of San Antonio and Mary S. Waggoner of St. Louis; two daughters-in-law, Thu Fitz and Dee Fitz of San Antonio; and two nieces, Isabelle Badouh of San Antonio and England of Tulsa, Okla.

Services will be at 1 p.m. today at the Holy Cross Mausoleum Chapel.

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