Senator Alan Thompson, Library’s Namesake, Passes Away at 92

Barbara and Alan Thompson

Alan and Barbara Thompson

Alan Thompson (1927-2019)

Alan Thompson, former Chief Clerk of the House and legislator, died July 27, 2019, in Olympia. He was 92.

As a legislator, Alan represented the 18th District, in southwest Washington. A Democrat, he was elected to the House in 1964, defeating an incumbent by 15 votes out of more than 20,000 votes cast. He was re-elected to the House eight times, serving from 1965 to 1982.

In 1982, Alan was appointed to the Senate, where he served until 1986. That year he resigned from the Senate to become Chief Clerk of the House, and served in that office until he retired in 1993.

Alan is survived by four sons, including Allied Daily Newspapers lobbyist Rowland Thompson, Washington Supreme Court reporter of decisions Sam Thompson, acting director of the Washington Public Ports Association James Thompson, and assistant attorney general Jonathan Thompson. He is also survived by three daughters-in-law, including Association of Washington School Officials director of government relations and advocacy Rosalind Thompson, and five grandchildren.

A WWII Navy veteran, Alan met his wife, Barbara Rowland, when both were journalism students at the University of Nebraska. The couple married in 1949. They celebrated their 67th wedding anniversary in August 2016, two months before Barbara died in October 2016.

Alan and Barbara moved to southwest Washington in 1958, where they published three weekly newspapers: the Wahkiakum County Eagle in Cathlamet (1958-1963), the Cowlitz County Advocate in Castle Rock (1963-1992), and the Lewis County News in Winlock (1967-1992). There was one notable interruption.

In November 1960, Alan approached Julia Butler Hansen, longtime Democratic state legislator and Cathlamet resident, who had just won election to Congress. Would she hire him as her aide? She would. And Alan served as Hansen's first legislative aide from 1960 to 1963.

Hansen joined Catherine May, a Republican elected in 1958, as the first women representing Washington districts in Congress.

On January 20, 1961, a great crowd, including 33-year-old Alan Thompson, listened as 43-year-old President John F. Kennedy delivered his inaugural address. Kennedy's words inspired generations, including Alan.

"Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country."

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