John Hiram Thompson

John Hiram Thompson

Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Death 2 Nov 2009 (aged 84)
Arlington Heights, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Burial Donated to Medical Science, Specifically: Body donated to medical education. After 3 years, body was cremated. Cremains with wife Dorcas Sophie Brausch Thompson.
Memorial ID 194506943 · View Source
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Chicago Tribune, November, 2009

John H. Thompson was a member of the original faculty at Harper College, where he taught anatomy and science for 20 years and brought in the school's first cadavers, then an uncommon study tool at community colleges.

Mr. Thompson, 84, died of a heart attack Monday, Nov. 2, in his Arlington Heights home, said his daughter Karen.

Mr. Thompson had been teaching at Maine East High School in Park Ridge when he took a post with Harper, a new community college serving the northwest suburbs that opened in fall 1967 with classes at Elk Grove Village High School.

Over the next 20 years, he put together an advanced anatomy curriculum and chaired the life sciences department for the college, which built its campus in Palatine, his family said.

In the mid-1970s, he took a semester off to study anatomy classes at the University of Illinois Medical Center at Chicago. Afterward, he was able to secure cadavers for students at Harper, said Harper biology professor Paul Holdaway.

"We had (cadavers) very early" for community colleges, Holdaway said. "That was one of his best legacies to the school."

The cadavers lent credibility to Harper's science division, said John Muchmore, a retired Harper speech professor and, like Mr. Thompson, one of the school's first faculty members.

"He made an early commitment to an anatomy program that was a very important part of the nursing and dental hygiene programs," Muchmore said. "He lived and breathed anatomy. He was really committed to the program."

Raised in Gurnee, Mr. Thompson graduated from Warren High School, where his father was the superintendent. He joined the Army during World War II and was engaged in heavy fighting through France and Germany.

The G.I. Bill financed his education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he received two undergraduate degrees, first in German and then in biology. He later received a master's degree in science from Northwestern University, his daughter said.

In 1957, he and his family moved to Germany, where he spent five years teaching at a high school for the children of American military personnel.

An accomplished linguist and constant learner, he introduced Russian language classes at Maine East High School, where he taught for five years before signing on with Harper.

In 1967, Mr. Thompson bought a then 102-year-old house in Arlington Heights. It became a project for him, with improvements that included laying concrete over a dirt and cobblestone basement, expanding the basement and enclosing two second-floor porches.

"He always had a ladder upside the house," Holdaway said.

Mr. Thompson also is survived by his wife, Dorcas; sons Paul and Richard; four other daughters, Marjorie, Sue Cullumber, Sandra and Laury Burns; a brother, Ralph; and eight grandchildren.

Mr. Thompson donated his body for scientific research, and no formal services are planned.

Family Members


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  • Find a Grave Memorial 194506943
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  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John Hiram Thompson (25 Mar 1925–2 Nov 2009), Find a Grave Memorial no. 194506943, ; Maintained by American-shinto-follower (contributor 49725644) Donated to Medical Science, who reports a Body donated to medical education. After 3 years, body was cremated. Cremains with wife Dorcas Sophie Brausch Thompson..