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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Raymond H. Thompson’s legacy

Sydney Kenig
Unknown profile photo The Arizona State Museum at the University of Arizona located at 1013 E. University Blvd in Tucson AZ on Monday 18, February. The Museum was established in 1893 and is one the University’s original research units.

Raymond H. Thompson, professor emeritus of anthropology,  passed away peacefully on January 29 at 95 years old.

Thompson was born in Portland, Maine, on May 10, 1924, according to the article “Raymond H. Thompson” on the Arizona State Museum website. Thompson was married to Molly Coit Kendall Thompson, who passed on Feb. 10, 2014. He is survived by two daughters, Margaret Luchetta and Mary Thompson, two grandchildren, Sarah and Julie Luchetta, and two great grandchildren, Silvio Luchetta and Jayma Luchetta Moses.

Along with his role as professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Arizona, Thompson was also the director of the Arizona State Museum for 32 years and was the former head of the Department of Anthropology. Thompson was a part of the UA community for 41 years.

“Thompson was responsible for heading the Department of Anthropology at a time of incredible growth in American higher education. … Thompson oversaw the growth of the anthropology faculty from 14 to 40 individuals,” the article stated.

Thompson also played a major role in modernizing federal laws, which led to ARPA, the Archeological Resources Protection Act. 

Thompson continued to be a part of the museum and the School of Anthropology. He was active in speaking at events and gatherings. He also co-authored the book “A Jesuit Missionary in Eighteenth Century Sonora: The Family Correspondence of Philipp Segesser,” which was published in 2014.

In the fall of 2019, the Arizona State Museum’s north building was named the Raymond H. Thompson Building.

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Jordan Wilson knew Thompson through her time as a research assistant in fall 2015. According to Wilson, many students who knew and worked with Thompson described him as a champion for gender equality decades before that was a priority.

She said Thompson also “championed the protection of Native American remains and artifacts decades before it became an official law. He pushed for proper protection and for tribes to get the artifacts returned to them.”

Wilson said her favorite memory of Thompson was when the museum was renamed in his honor and there was a big party held to celebrate it in November. 

“Every time I saw him, he was always sharply dressed in a three-piece suit,” Wilson said. “He was still publishing, and he was still helping the current director [at the Arizona State Museum] to do things.” 

According to Patrick D. Lyons, Arizona State Museum director and associate professor of anthropology, “My favorite memory with Ray was that at the age of 95 he could still remember intimate details about the archaeological excavations that he had directed in the 1960s. It just amazed me that at his advanced age he could still bring to mind the amazing details about something that happened so long ago.”

The UA is saddened to lose Raymond H. Thompson, who was such an amazing and dedicated person. His legacy will never be forgotten. 

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