Paul W. Thompson
Paul W. Thompson, a Renaissance man of a rare and robust sort — with a quick wit, quirky
sense of humor, and warm heart — died July 28, 2021, at Hospice Care Center in Longview
after several months of declining health. He was 80.
Born Nov. 25, 1940, in Chehalis, Washington, to Carl Roy Thompson and Elsie Butler
Thompson, Paul grew up in Longview, Washington. He attended St. Rose Parish School, R.A.
Long High School (Class of 1958), and Lower Columbia College, before transferring to the
University of Washington, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English and a master’s
degrees in technical theatre.
Paul enjoyed jobs as a taxi driver and insurance claims adjuster prior to moving to Oak Park,
Illinois, to begin his career as a speech and theatre professor at Chicago’s Wright College and
a part-time freelance scenic artist/stage carpenter.
A single father, he raised from a young age his daughter, Sonya. He enjoyed an active life with
family camping and fishing trips, volleyball, sailing on Lake Michigan, and taking gourmet
picnics to outdoor summer concerts at Ravenna Park.
His reputation as a good cook made him a popular dinner guest and home entertainer. For
many years he hosted at his home a large-scale annual barbecue for fellow faculty, neighbors,
and friends, where he served Tandoori Chicken. It eventually rose to the top of his list of
signature dishes, along with his special garlic bread (“Never soggy!”), Swiss Steak, Eggs
Benedict, and Risotto (“Stir constantly and add liquid when the spoon leaves a path.”) He was
a skilled and imaginative cook, often adding to his culinary creations Pacific Northwest bounty
he’d personally caught, dug, shucked or foraged… salmon, razor clams, Willapa oysters, and
Chanterelle mushrooms. Paul’s mechanical mind and fascination with gadgetry showed in his
kitchen with such implements as a long-handled, spring-loaded pickle grabber, a hand-cranked
apple peeler (he made wonderful pies), and an old-fashioned meat grinder (“Fresh-ground is
As an empty-nester nearing retirement, Paul decided to pursue a long-held dream and move to
Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Having several years earlier purchased a six-acre wooded
parcel outside of Sequim, between Port Townsend and Port Angeles. He set up a 20- by 7-foot
travel trailer and lived in it while clearing a homesite, logging trees from the property, and
cutting them on-site with a portable sawmill into dimensional lumber. “It’s part of my agrarian
pursuit,” he joked at the time. “I’m removing the trees from a space and putting them back in
another form. There’s something holistic about it.” He built a masterfully-crafted, rustic, stately
house of his own design, where he lived happily for 10 years.
In Sequim, he became the proud owner of a 36-foot Cape George cutter, a full keel, blue-water
sailboat and enjoyed jaunts into the Strait of George and the Straits of Juan de Fuca. With a
small cadré of family and friends he ventured out toward Alaska via the Inside Passage. They
didn’t make it to their destination, but returned with oft-told tales of their adventures and fun
while “marooned” on Quadra Island, B.C., waiting for boat repair parts.
During his years of teaching, with most summers off Paul was able to develop his lifelong love
of traveling the world, making many trips to South America, Central America, and much of
Europe. He was especially fond of Paris and Spain, and in 2016 capped his travels with a
cruise thru the amazing Panama Canal, where he watched the locks in action.
Paul returned to his hometown of Longview in 2012, where he re-connected with old friends
and made many new ones through his role with the Columbia River Reader, for which he wrote
a popular column, “Man in the Kitchen,” from the paper’s inception in 2004. Paul enjoyed get-
togethers with his high school classmates, bowling, golf, dining in and out with friends,
attending local theatre and musical performances, and sitting behind home plate at Cowlitz
Black Bears baseball games. He’d been an outdoorsman all his life, and was equally
comfortable indoors watching his favorite movies — old and new — and listening to his favorite
opera, jazz, rock and roll, and show tunes — especially from musical theatre productions he’d
worked on over the years. At home, he never tired of viewing from his living room window
squirrels tumbling on the lawn, hummingbirds squabbling around the feeder, and the changing,
colorful landscape dotted with walkers, runners, and their pets traversing the path around Lake
Sacajawea, just across the street.
Paul was lavish in expressing his appreciation to a circle of special friends, to his devoted
caregivers Cindy Davis and Shellie Warren, and to his daughter, Sonya, whose extended visits
boosted his spirits as his health declined. “You take good care of me,” he often said.
Paul was preceded in death by his parents, and by three siblings: Fran Nelson, Chuck
Thompson, and Maxine Foister. He is survived by his daughter, Sonya Dobberfuhl and her
husband, Keith “Skeeter” Dobberfuhl, in Belvidere, Illinois; a grandson, Joshua Mahn; a
granddaughter, Audra Stupar; a great-grandson, Matthew Warren, and several nieces and
Cremation has taken place, under the direction of Dahl-McVicker Funeral Home. A private
celebration of life will take place in September. For information, call Ned Piper, 360-749-2632.
Donations in Paul’s memory may be made to the Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts,
PO Box 1026, Longview WA 98632; or for the Kids’ Fish-In at Lake Sacajawea: Longview
Parks & Rec Foundation, c/o Gerry Bosh, 2609 NW Nichols Blvd., Longview, WA 98632