Mabelle Adele (Giddings) Thompson, 91, died peacefully on Sept. 7, 2018, at her home in Oak Bluffs.
Mabelle Adele Thompson, the youngest of five children born to Mabelle and Arthur Giddings, grew up in Yonkers, N.Y., with her siblings Arthur, Curtis, Elizabeth, and George. Following graduation from Gorton High School, she commuted daily to Barnard College in New York City, as black students were not allowed to reside on the Barnard campus. After graduating in 1949 with a liberal arts degree and a major in chemistry, she began her career in research as a laboratory technician in the department of nephrology at the New York University–Bellevue Medical Center. While there she worked under Homer Smith, the most well-known pioneer in renal physiology.
Subsequently, Mabelle undertook research to develop new antibiotic treatments for rheumatic fever at Abbot House, in Irvington, N.Y., which was then a convalescent children’s hospital. She left that facility upon being invited to establish the first on-site blood and other chemical analyses laboratory in the Yonkers General Hospital.
In 1950, Mabelle married Samuel Thompson, a sales executive. In 1957 the couple settled in Greenburgh, N.Y., where they eventually filled their home with four boisterous sons, Peter, Gordon, David, and Mark.
Mabelle developed a passionate interest in childhood education, and after seven years as a stay-at-home-mom, enrolled in a collaborative experimental continuing education master’s degree program developed by Sarah Lawrence College and New York University. She received a master’s degree in education in 1967. That fall she began her teaching career in the progressive Greenburgh Central School District No. 7.
In the early 1970s, the district, which paired two racially imbalanced school systems in Greenburgh and Hartsdale, provided a fertile environment for staff and community seeking equal opportunities for students. Mabelle became the elementary science and math coordinator, and then elementary computer coordinator in the district, which was cited in a major case study for its effective desegregation policies and practices that resulted in racial, economic, religious, and ethnic diversity.
Over time, Mabelle and her family developed a love for Martha’s Vineyard. She was known to pile everyone into the car heading north on the last day of school, and not return to Greenburgh until the absolute last minute on the day before school started in the fall. While on the Island, Mabelle played tennis, fished, swam, went clamming, played bridge, and developed many enduring friendships.
Following 24 years of service, Mabelle retired from teaching, and she and Sam moved to Martha’s Vineyard, where they continued to share many interests. She became well-known for her culinary skills, and was always happy to host family and friends.
Mabelle’s husband, Sam, her son, Mark, and her grandson, Austin, predeceased her. She is survived by her sons and their wives, Peter (Deidra), Gordon (Christina), and David (Tracy). Also mourning her loss are her grandchildren, Nicole, Vanessa, Ashley, Cameron, Spencer, Sydney, Christian, and Chase; her great-grandson James; her “honorary daughter” Michelle Clements; and several nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Her graveside service will be held on Saturday, Sept. 15, at 12:30 pm in the Sacred Heart Cemetery, Vineyard Avenue in Oak Bluffs, officiated by the Rev. Deborah Warner.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to the Mabelle Thompson and Millie R. Clements Scholarship at Northeastern University; attention of: Patricia A. Flint, Northeastern University 402 CP, 716 Columbus Ave., Boston, MA 02120; 617-373-7356; firstname.lastname@example.org.
This scholarship was established in 2017 by Gordon O. and Christina Clements Thompson, and honors the memory of two extraordinary women who were an inspiration to their children and to all those they touched throughout their lives. Pioneers and accomplished each in their own right, Mabelle and Millie valued the importance of an education, commitment to community, and above all, dedication to their family and friends. Mabelle Thompson and Millie R. Clements were incredible role models and this scholarship, in their memory, will continue their legacy for generations to come.