Former Editor at the Beacon Hill Times
Elizabeth W. Thomson, 86, died on January 11 after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.
Born in Englewood N.J., Elizabeth “Didi” Whitson attended the Dwight Englewood School and later Oberlin College, where she studied English and the organ, and was active in campus productions of Gilbert and Sullivan operas, a passion which she continued during summers on Cape Cod, building sets and designing posters for the College Light Opera Company.
After leaving Oberlin, she moved to New York to take a job with Cambridge University Press. In 1968 her employer sent her to a microbiology conference in Detroit, it was there she would meet Peter Thomson. She and Peter Married in May of 1969 and she moved into his home on Beacon Hill in Boston, where she lived for the next 50 years.
In Boston, Elizabeth continued her work in publishing field, first as an editor for Prindle, Weber & Schmidt, and later as a freelance editor. She was meticulous and attentive to detail and her editing talents were sought after for math and science textbooks of all kinds.
After the birth of her son, James in 1977, she reduced her hours but continued to work, even bringing James into the office during the first year of his life, unusual for the time. She delighted in raising James and during his childhood also branched out into other pursuits, including teaching piano to Beacon Hill children, working as a publications editor and designer at Shady Hill School, and later serving for many years as an editor at the Beacon Hill Times.
Elizabeth was a staunch believer in education and supporter of educational institutions. She was actively involved at the schools her son, James attended and later served on the board of trustees at Commonwealth School and the North Bennet Street School. Her early contributions helped start The Farm School in Western Massachusetts, and she was a strong supporter of her alma mater, where, inspired by her own college experience in a summer term at the Puntey School in Vermont, she initiated a fund to help students pursuing alternative off-campus educational experiences, called “The Adventure Fund.”
Elizabeth was also deeply involved in Boston’s Kings Chapel, where she served as Junior Warden and chaired the music committee and was an integral part of organizing the King’s Chapel concert series, which features and supports the musicians of the King’s Chapel. She also continued her study of the organ there, and would occasionally play for children’s services.
She was a lover of food and of cooking, and will be remembered for the many holiday feasts that she created for family and friends at her home on Beacon Hill and at the family “farm” in Western Massachusetts, another place that she loved and supported generously. Among her proudest achievements was the work she and Peter did to convert an old apple barn into a beautiful family residence, and to preserve over 250 acres of forests and fields under permanent conservation restrictions.
Later in life Elizabeth took up painting, which became one of her great joys, and in the last years before her illness delighted in spending time with her granddaughter Eleanor, born in 2009.
Elizabeth is survived by her husband, Peter, son, James (and wife Danièle), step-children: Peter (and wife Edith) and Sandy (and husband Richard), granddaughter Eleanor, sister Jean and brother Jim (and wife Deborah).
A memorial service will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be offered to Oberlin College for “The Adventure Fund,” P.O. BOX 72110, Cleveland, OH 44192.
To send a message of condolence, please visit www.carrfuneral.com.