Remembering Lowell Thompson

Lowell Thompson
Lowell Thompson

Lowell H. Thompson, professor emeritus at the Center for Teaching & Learning (now the College of Education & Human Development), died Dec. 8, 2021. He was 89.

Lowell Thompson was born on the Ault farm in Cavalier, N.D., on Oct. 26, 1932, to Homer and Dorothy (Ault) Thompson. Lowell grew up and attended elementary school in Cavalier, junior high school in Tacoma, Wash., and graduated from Cavalier High School in 1950. He attended Valley City State Teachers College where he completed his degree.

He married his wife, Donna, in 1952. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1953 and received an honorable discharge, then returned to complete his degree in 1956. His first teaching job was in Goodrich, N.D., where he stayed for over 10 years. His days were full as he taught math, history, problems of democracy, and world history. In addition to his teaching duties, he coached a number of sports at all grade levels, supervised study halls, was class advisor and also taught both boys and girls physical education. After two years of this very full schedule, he was named high school principal and continued coaching boys and girls’ basketball, football, track, baseball and grade school basketball. He later became the superintendent in Goodrich where he stayed until he was offered the same position in Lakota, N.D.

While in Goodrich, his highlights were sponsoring the first Head Start Program in North Dakota and establishing the first snow skiing club in the state. Lowell also started a summer school program that included swimming lessons in an above ground pool located in the gymnasium.

Lowell went on to complete his master’s degree at UND. He was then offered a stipend to attend the doctoral program. Upon receiving his Ph.D. in education, he accepted a position at UND as assistant professor of education and later became a professor in the Center for Teaching and Learning. He served as chair of the elementary education division for several years and later served as chair for the middle school division.

While at UND, Lowell was not only instrumental in the merger of the New School of Behavioral Studies with the University’s School of Education, which is now known as the UND College of Education and Human Development, but also the transition of junior high schools to middle schools throughout North Dakota. Lowell retired from UND as a tenured professor in 1990 after more than 25 years of service.

Donna also spent 25 years at UND as a secretary in social work, the College of Human Resources and Development, occupational therapy and the Honors Program.

Lowell felt very privileged to be associated with wonderful and outstanding educators across the state and nation while working as a participant in significant education initiatives. In addition to serving on numerous professional organizations, he was a member of groups such as the Masonic Lodge, American Legion, Lions Club, and Elks.

Lowell and Donna had four children; LuAnn Burris, Denise (John) Horpedahl, Jody (Machell), Mike (Debbie), all of Grand Forks. They were also blessed with 9 grandchildren; Jerrod Burris, Andee (Meyer) Burris, DJ Burris, Craig Horpedahl, Carrie (Cathey) Horpedahl, Travis, Taylor, Tyler and Hailey Thompson, as well as 17 great grandchildren.

Whenever any of their kids or grandkids had sporting events, school events, church events, Lowell and Donna were a constant fixture in the audience. They were also avid travelers for out-of-town games. He loved taking pictures and developing them in his own darkroom, so you were always guaranteed pictures after each event.

When they bought “the farm” in 1986, it became the gathering place for all birthdays, holidays, Sunday dinners, and Christmas sleep-overs. There were always activities happening – from the golf course and go kart track Lowell built, sliding hills, horses to ride, dogs, cats and even a pig. Lowell loved having his family at the farm during all seasons. He bought a flat-bed trailer and horse sled to give hay rides around the farm and he loved building tow ropes for the sledding/snowboarding hill so the kids didn’t have to keep walking back up the hill! He even made sure to have a heated shop for them to warm up in.

“The farm” later became known as “Llama Ridge” as they added llamas to the mix of animals. Llama Ridge became popular with the snowboarders as the sledding hill became a terrain park with jumps and rails to do their tricks and again, he was always there taking pictures. After retirement, he spent his days at the farm keeping busy with mowing, gardening, and fixing his mowers, tractors, or anything else he could break and fix again.

Lowell was preceded in death by his parents, wife Donna, daughter-in-law (Debbie) and his four sisters.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 16, 2022 at First Presbyterian Church. Visitation will be from noon to 1:00 p.m. preceding the service at the church. If you wish to give a memorial in Lowell’s honor, the family suggests the UND College of Education and Human Development Annual Excellence Fund in care of UND Alumni Association & Foundation (3501 University Ave. Stop 8157, Grand Forks, ND 58202) or First Presbyterian Church, 5555 South Washington, Grand Forks.