Thompson—Charles S. Thompson, 89, on April 16, 2017, at home in Queens, N.Y. Charles was born on July 13, 1927, in Middletown, N.Y. He moved to New York City in his teens. Charles and his wife, Catherine Gross, lived in Queens and Columbia County, N.Y. They had three children.
He left the Protestant church in his late 20s and became a Friend. Brooklyn (N.Y.) Friends Church on Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn (N.Y.) Meeting, and Fifteenth Street Meeting in New York City were all part of his spiritual life. When Brooklyn Friends Church joined with Brooklyn Meeting, he played Santa for the kids at Christmastime. He also worshipped midweek with a group of Friends at the home of Marge and George Rubin on Roosevelt Island.
He joined Taghkanic Hudson (N.Y.) Meeting after he and Cathy moved to Columbia County around 1987. His steadfastness kept the meeting going when other members from the 1950s through 1970s drifted away. At times, when the meeting had only a couple of members, he was the only one at meeting for worship. Serving as clerk of the meeting for about five years, he was the most welcoming member of the meeting, making new worshipers feel they had found a spiritual home. His two-handed handshake and personal interest opened the way for some new worshipers to join as members. One Friend, who had lost a father, a stepfather, a godfather, and a kind of foster father by the time he was fifteen, remembered that Charles always welcomed and accepted him the way a father would have. Another said that Charles had embraced her right away and made her want to stay and find out if this was the right meeting for her.
He was an avid reader of Friends Journal and an admired photographer. His authentic kindness was more than polite civility, and his internal being reached out in joy or with concern. So tender in these ways, he was tough in his commitment to equality and sustaining the spiritual life of Hudson Meeting. His heart-energy and his caring came from a place of clarity. Hudson Friends treasured his knowledge, experience, and history as a Friend.
Charles is survived by his wife, Catherine Gross; two children, Janet Shaw and David Thompson; two grandchildren; and several nephews and cousins.