The life of Dr. Carolyn Thompson, wife and partner of UTC Chancellor Roger Brown, will be celebrated at a service to be held Tuesday, March 6, at 10 a.m. in Patten Chapel on the UTC campus with the Rev. John Talbird, Jr. officiating.
For those who cannot attend Tuesday but would like to view the Patten Chapel service online, live streaming will be available here.
The family will receive visitors on Monday, March 5, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Chattanooga Rooms of the UTC University Center.
Thompson died following an extended illness. She was diagnosed in 2011 with myelofibrosis, a cancer of the bone marrow.
During her months of aggressive treatment at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Thompson’s determination and her sense of humor never flagged. Family, friends and the UTC community were able to follow her progress and send messages of encouragement in response to her candid, funny posts on an Internet blog.
At UTC, Thompson maintained a close relationship with a variety of student groups, including the Chancellor’s Ambassadors—a group which she helped form—University Honors, the Student Government Association, and varsity athletes. Students, alumni, faculty and staff groups were welcomed into the Chancellor’s Lookout Mountain home on many occasions. She was actively involved with the board of the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure, hosted annually on the UTC campus, and this past year, she served as Co-Chair of the UTC 125th Anniversary Celebration.
“The entire University of Tennessee family is deeply saddened by the death of Carolyn Thompson. As UT Chattanooga’s First Lady, she has played a vital role in every aspect of campus life. She was wonderfully engaged and brought energy and great ideas to her support for the UTC mission,” said UT President Dr. Joe DiPietro. “She faced her illness with a spirit that has been a constant encouragement to us all. She will be greatly missed, and the legacy and memory she leaves will be treasured. Our thoughts are with her family and with the UT Chattanooga campus community.”
A native of Worcester, Massachusetts, Thompson earned the B.A. from Emmanuel College, Boston, Massachusetts; she received the M.S.W. from St. Louis University and the Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University.
During her career, she served as Medical Social Worker, UCLA Medical Center; Director of Social Work Training, Kennedy Kreiger Institute, Johns Hopkins Children’s Hospital; and Chair of the Department of Social Work, Mars Hill College, Mars Hill, North Carolina. She established the Master of Health Administration Degree Program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where she was professor of Health Administration.
Thompson was later named Professor and Founding Dean of the Honors College at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, where she recruited and mentored first generation college students, many of them female students who had never been beyond the county line of their rural North Carolina homes.
Thompson was delighted to learn she would receive the 2012 “Unbossed and Unbought” award from Girls Incorporated of Chattanooga, honoring “women in the greater Chattanooga area who through their career achievements or community leadership have had significant impact in improving the lives of girls and women.”
As a nonprofit strategic planning consultant, she assisted the Women’s Leadership Institute, Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, Friends of the Festival, Hunter Museum of American Art and the United Way of Greater Chattanooga.
Thompson served on the boards of several community organizations and institutions, including Memorial Healthcare System, the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, Community Impact, Allied Arts of Greater Chattanooga, the Chattanooga Symphony and Opera, and Friends of Moccasin Bend. She has been a volunteer for the National Park Service at Point Park on Lookout Mountain.
She held membership in Phi Kappa Phi Honorary Society, Phi Gamma Delta International Honorary Society and Pi Alpha Alpha Public Administration Honorary Society.
Thompson’s greatest pride came in the accomplishments of her children. She is survived by her husband, Dr. Roger Brown; a daughter, Caroline Thompson of Los Angeles, California; a son and daughter-in-law, Dr. Austin Thompson and Mash Hes, both of Greenville, North Carolina. Included in the couple’s family is “Madeleine Albright” of the Lookout Mountain canine patrol, a 13-year-old rescued Husky mix who enjoys diplomatic immunity.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Carolyn’s honor to:
The Mary Finnegan Rinkus Endowed Scholarship, UTC Office of Development, DEPT 6806, 615 McCallie Avenue, Chattanooga TN 37403;
The Women’s Fund, Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, 1270 Market Street, Chattanooga TN 37402 or
Hospice of Chattanooga, 4411 Oakwood Drive, Chattanooga, TN 37416.