Ann Thompson: Creating a world of opportunity

Ann Thompson was a loyal supporter of the University of Calgary through the annual giving program for almost 20 years. Through the years her gifts supported various programs at the U of C – including the Library endowment and the Alumni Association scholarships and bursaries endowment – which is a reflection of her many interests and passions in her incredible life. When Ann passed away last year, she continued her support through a bequest in her will and left her mark on the future of the U of C. 

Ann Thompson was a trailblazer. Throughout her life she faced opportunities and challenges head on never considering the possibility that being a woman should or could affect the way she did things.

Born in 1929 to British citizens living in Cashmere India, Ann didn’t have the typical upbringing. She spent her early years exploring the world with her family in India, Australia, England, and the South of France. During World War II Ann was sent to Canada with 29 other girls from her boarding school, where she first became acquainted with Nova Scotia, a place she would later call home. 

The early travelling helped to solidify her adventurous spirit. When it was time to leave home, Ann made an interesting choice to join the British Navy for a four year stint as a diver. This could be considered an incredible feat for anyone, particularly a woman in 1948. During her years with the Navy she had the opportunity to dive Port Royal, Jamaica, famously known as the ‘City that Sank’, an experience she carried with her forever.

In search of another challenge after the Navy, Ann enrolled in Faraday House College of Engineering in England and went on to become only the second woman to graduate.   

From there she went to work at Eubank’s Engineering Firm in London, England, the same firm as her future husband. She transferred to Jamaica where she spent two years working as the primary engineer at the Appleton Rum Factory, before returning to England and marrying D.W. Thompson. 

In 1965, Ann and D.W. packed up their daughter, Sarah, and moved to Nova Scotia, Canada. In 1968 the Thompson’s adopted a daughter, Jane, and in 1972 the family moved to Calgary, Alberta.

Calgary brought a new world of opportunities for the family and they quickly developed a relationship with the Calgary Zoo. They all loved animals, but by Ann’s own admission she had always been more of an animal person than a people person. And as she discovered through frequent trips to the zoo, she had a particular passion for primates.

It was this passion that fueled Ann’s return to school and began her relationship with the University of Calgary. When her daughters were teenagers Ann enrolled at the U of C to study Anthropology. She immersed herself in her coursework, even regaling her family at the dinner table with intricate details of dissections in biology class. She thoroughly enjoyed this experience and her family was extremely proud of her. Ann went on to complete her Bachelor’s Degree in Geography at the U of C.

After graduating from the U of C, Ann continued her relationship as a donor. When she passed away in December 2006, Ann left a bequest in her will to the University of Calgary Foundation (1999), which will be used to establish the D.W. and Ann Thompson Bursary in the Faculty of Social Sciences. Each year three students will be awarded a bursary based on financial need.

Throughout her life, Ann carried with her a strong belief that everyone deserves an opportunity to be their best. It was this simple yet powerful belief that motivated her final gift to the U of C – to give people, especially other women, opportunities to have experiences like she did throughout her life.

As students further their education and knowledge with the support of the bursary, Ann’s legacy of will live on at the U of C – she will always be remembered for her brilliant mind, adventurous spirit and constant pursuit of the best.

For information on how to establish a bequest, click here.

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