Peter Thompson M.D.
October 15, 1937 – August 3, 2019
Peter Kempner Thompson, M.D., loving husband, devoted father, exceptional “Papa”, dedicated doctor and caring friend, died on Saturday, the 3rd of August, 2019 after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke. At the time, he was in California traveling and visiting with family and friends. He was 81 years of age.
He was a native Galvestonian (B.O.I. - “Born on the Island”), born on the 15th of October 1937, to Leonora “Nonie” Kempner Thompson and Edward Randall Thompson, M.D. He attended Ball High School in Galveston and graduated from The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. He graduated from the University of Texas - Austin and married his college sweetheart, Nancy Philen of Brownsville, before attending medical school at the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) in Galveston, where his grandfather, James E. Thompson, had journeyed from England in 1892 to become the first Professor of Surgery. Peter’s father and three uncles also received their medical training from UTMB.
After medical school, Peter completed his internship at San Francisco General Hospital and returned to Baylor College of Medicine in Houston for his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology. He then served in the Air Force for two years at Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas, after which he returned to Houston to establish his private practice.
Peter practiced Obstetrics and Gynecology for more than 40 years, most of it with OBGYN Associates in Houston. He and his colleagues helped to build The Women’s Hospital of Texas, and he served as President of the medical staff and in many other leadership roles in its early years. His love for medicine grew through the many changes seen in his career. He had a major impact on promoting natural childbirth and worked hard to allow husbands to be in the delivery room, a radical idea at the time. While practicing obstetrics, he delivered more than 6,000 babies in Houston. Midway through his career, he turned his focus to gynecology and became interested in urogynecology, at the time a subspecialty in its infancy. He spent his time and energy developing better surgical procedures to enable better results for his patients. His devoted nursing staff, some who worked with him for 25 years, was vital to his successful medical career.
Peter was a member of a number of medical societies including the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Urogynecologic Society, the Continental Gynecological Society, the International Society for the Advancement of Humanism in Gynecology and the AOA Honorary Medical Society, and served as President for many. He lectured at various meetings on surgical procedures in urogynecology and more recently on VIA Cryo, an early detection process for precancerous cervical lesions. He published numerous articles on studies on a range of gynecology topics. He taught fellows in urogynecology at The Woman’s Hospital of Texas and Baylor College of Medicine. He was consistently involved at UTMB, serving as President of the Development Board, supporting the establishment of the surgical simulation clinic and most recently co-chairing the drive to construct a new collaborative health care services education building. In 2000, he received the UTMB Ashbel Smith Distinguished Alumnus Award. He served on numerous additional boards, including the DePelchin Psychiatric Services Board and the Healthcare and Nursing Education Foundation. He volunteered his services in the 1960s to Planned Parenthood and later served on its Advisory Board. It was a favorite organization that he believed provided important affordable services to all women.
After his retirement in 2004, Peter became involved with and gave tirelessly to Faith In Practice, a volunteer organization of professionals providing medical care to the underserved in Guatemala. For 16 years he and his wife Nancy, who served as his Spanish interpreter, traveled to Guatemala two to three times a year. The majority of their time was spent working in cervical cancer screening clinics, where up to 1,000 women would be screened over 4 days, and teaching local doctors and nurses the Visual Inspection with Acetic Acid (VIA) method for screening – a low tech “see and treat” method found to be most effective in low resource situations. Together, they visited almost every department (state) of Guatemala, some reached after a 10-12 hour bus ride. Peter also served many years on the Board of Directors of Faith in Practice and he and Nancy were chosen as honorees at its Gala of 2011 for their contributions. After Peter’s success in Guatemala, he was invited to go to both Vietnam and India to help set up similar programs. At the time of his death, he was also interested in serving the Texas Rio Grande Valley, which has one of the highest rates of cervical cancer in the country.
From the above description, one might think that Peter was all work and no play. It did take 25 years before he was willing to leave his patients for more than a week at a time, at which point travel became a passion for him and his family. In the last two years of his life, he was fortunate to be able to travel to India, raft down the Grand Canyon, and visit Antarctica. Just a week before Peter’s stroke, he and Nancy had joined friends on a memorable passenger/freighter cruise to the remote Marquesas Island, 1,000 miles north of Tahiti. His travels led to an interest in exotic foods and an appetite for trying everything. His last meal was octopus he had purchased from Costco and grilled on his daughter’s beautiful deck in California.
Peter loved sports, both as a spectator and as a participant. Upon returning to Houston in 1970, he immediately secured season tickets to the Rockets, Astros and Oilers. (It was then that Nancy insisted he also needed a little culture and the Houston Grand Opera was added to their repertoire.) He taught all of his children and many of their friends to water ski and enjoyed snow skiing every winter, even though his two oldest children each broke a leg on their first family ski trip. Deep sea fishing with his parents and friends off of Galveston, especially for king fish, was a favorite past time, and both scuba diving and hiking became interests. Exercise was vital to him, and he looked for opportunities for everyone around to join him. He had just purchased a card (assumed for Nancy) that said “Best advice for someone your age…”—“Keep moving or they’ll put a slipcover over you.”
Tennis remained his consistent athletic passion, and only recently did he stop playing singles. In his later years, he would sign up for the singles B ladder at the Houston Racquet Club, where he found his opponents were often the age of his children and sometimes his grandchildren. He won more than his share of these matches, which was a source of great satisfaction to him. Once he gave up singles, he looked forward to playing doubles twice a week until the very end.
Above all, family was most important. He found the time to help coach his three children’s baseball and softball teams and in later years supported his grandchildren in their extracurricular sports and music activities. With most of his children and grandchildren living far away, he and Nancy always made an extra effort to visit them and be a part of their lives. Just a few months ago, they attended graduations of two grandchildren – one in Michigan and the other in Massachusetts. They taught him to text, and it was not uncommon for them to be in touch and placing friendly bets when the Rockets played Golden State or the Astros played the Giants.
Peter was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Edward Randall “Tim” Thompson, Jr. He is survived by his wife and soul mate of 59 years, Nancy Philen Thompson; their children, Kim (Steve), Todd (Lisa) and Brooke (Lauren); and ten grandchildren, David, Kate, Mark, Theo, Nicolas, Mia, Kurt, Heidi, Rachel and Jonathan. He is also survived by his sister, Rhoda Thompson Ezell; and by many nieces, nephews and cousins.
Peter will be remembered for his amazing poise, patience and humility. He approached the world with openness, curiosity and confidence and was kind and gracious to everybody he encountered in life. He will be missed.
A memorial service and celebration of his life is to be conducted at four o’clock in the afternoon on Saturday, the 7th of September, in the Jasek Chapel of Geo. H. Lewis & Sons, 1010 Bering Drive in Houston. Suits and ties are not required, as Peter would have wished. A simple video of the service will be made for those who find it difficult to attend.
Immediately following, all are invited to greet the family and share remembrances over light fare and refreshments during a reception in the adjacent grand foyer.
In lieu of customary remembrances, the family requests with gratitude that memorial contributions in his name be directed to Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, 4600 Gulf Freeway, Houston, TX, 77023; Faith in Practice, 7500 Beechnut St. #208, Houston, TX, 77074; or to The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, 301 University Blvd., Galveston, TX, 77555; or to the charity of your choice.
In addition to this page, memories and condolences may also be shared by commenting on the most recent journal entry on the CaringBridge site established for Peter at www.caringbridge.org/visit/dr.peterthompson/journal (please copy and paste link).
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- Memorial Service & Celbration of Life Saturday, September 7, 2019
Peter Thompson M.D.
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August 26, 2019
Dr. Thompson delivered both of my children in 1977 and 1979.
One of my all time favorite doctors - kind, gentle, and very knowledgeable. I was sorry when he retired and am sorry about his passing.
Mary Frances Ginsbach
August 26, 2019
I was surprised and saddened to read of Peter's death yesterday. From the time Janet and I were your neighbors in Longwoods, you and Peter were always to us an extraordinary couple. That conviction only grew with time as we learned of what an amazing team the two of you made in the world with organizations such as Faith In Practice. Tom Blocher and I also enjoyed running into the two of you regularly at the opera.
Nancy, I pray for Peter's heavenly joy, and God's healing touch for you.
With love and respect,
August 25, 2019
Dear Family and Friends of Dr. Thompson,
Thank you for writing such a beautiful and informative tribute to him. It is lovely to know about how he extended himself to others, his love for his family and his many accomplishments. He was an outstanding physician and helped me to have a better, healthier life. I am pleased to say that my daughter is one of the over 6,000 babies delivered by Dr. Thompson; that was almost 30 years ago.
You will all be in my prayers, and I’ll pray specifically for you to have strength as you navigate the coming days.
Again, thank you for sharing his story.
(Patient from 1981 till 2004)
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
IN THE CARE OF