Thursday, September 16, 2010

David Thompson

Outfit member emeritus, Sara Paretsky, asked if she could post this about David Thompson. Please feel free to add your thoughts.

By now, the mystery community knows the sad death of David Thompson, who was the founder of Busted Flush Press, and managed Murder by the Book in Houston. Everyone who’s ever been to the store knows how extraordinary David’s experience and expertise were. He started work as a shelver in the late 1980’s, when the legendary Martha Farrington still owned the store. I remember him as a shy teenager, but one who had a mature knowledge of books, writers, and how to bring readers and writers together.

Every loss makes me want to say “It isn’t fair,” but never more so than David’s. He was only 38. He had just started a marriage with McKenna Jordan, the current owner of Murder by the Book, after a long storybook courtship. He had made a modest success of Busted Flush, no mean feat in today’s killer publishing world, and had recently completed a sale of the press to Tyrus Books.

If you will be in Houston on September 26, please drink margaritas in David’s honor at The Briar Club, between 2 and 5 p.m. Alafair Burke, David’s lifelong friend, has set up fund in his honor; the charity will be determined later, but checks should be made out to “In Memory of David Thompson” and mailed to Alafair at 7 E. 14th St, #1206, New York 10003.

For tributes from people who knew David well, go to Sarah Weinman’s blog.
We are all made less by his passing. And all of us should make sure we give our heartiest support to McKenna and the store during this terrible time in her life.


Libby Hellmann said...

I haven't been able to talk about this until now, but reading all the tributes and blogposts and Facebook comments has made me realize what an incredibly enthusiastic, friendly, kind, and talented man David was. The fact that so many people called him a friend, and are sharing their personal experiences with him is quite a testament. Writers might add clarity to the mystery community, but David added heart.

He will be sorely missed.

Jamie Freveletti said...

He was wonderful. This was tragic news.

armadillow said...

David was my son for almost 39 complete years - lacking 11 days. (That sounds strange - he is still my son even if he is not here.) He was smart, eager, full of fun, and the best friend that a brother and sister could ever have. The three of them were very close, and even though Shelley is 6 years older than David that did not make a difference to them. As they grew older, the boys would try to emulate the things that Shelley did. David and Oneal were so much together, that I used to call the "the boys". Then when I tried to call their names individually, I would say, "David..Neal..David!" Or vice versa.

David copied his sister and myself and learned how to read, almost in self defense. We would walk to the library in West University Place almost every Saturday and check out books. David's eagerness to learn to read had him reaching for more and more books that most 4 year old kids would not have attempted. The librarian there watched him carefully - she was also one of the secretaries in the admittance office at West University Elementary School which was just across the street from the library. The summer that David would have started kindergarten (at 5 because his birthday was not for another month) this wonderful lady arranged that, because David's reading skills were so advanced, he was immediately placed in First grade. And so his education started with a bang.

Several years later, when the Magnet School program got underway, David was accepted to Lanier Middle School. When it came time for High School, David was lucky enough to be accepted to the High School for Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice. Prophetic, perhaps? He graduated 17th in his class, which put him in the top 10% of his graduating class of 182. He worked part time as a security guard for the University of Texas Medical Center Garage before he worked at Murder By The Book. David went to the University of Houston, studying Geology for several years - he was technically a senior when he changed course and dropped out. I guess by this time he was working full time at the store.

There was a period of 3 years when Oneal was missing from the family structure, and Shelley had graduated from high school and was rooming with some of her previous class mates. David and I took my vacations from work together - once to the east coast and twice to California. David was like a sponge and took in all the sights and sounds that he possibly could. He delighted in seeing new places and experiencing things like watching seals off the coast of California, walking in Carmel where one of his heroes was the mayor, and sipping wine at a winery in Napa Valley. Hey, he was tall for only 16.

David took his brother in for a while when Oneal's marriage crashed. David and Oneal were ushers at their sister's wedding, and also for my second marriage. They were together when Oneal was married almost three years ago. Always together. The two of them have been somewhat apart for the past few years because of David's focus on the bookstore and his publishing business - his other family came last. But no one can say that they did not love each other. Those who love the most, often hurt the most.

As I read all the many postings, and I know that I have not read them all, I find that many people did not know that David had another family beside the store and then McKenna. Besides his brother and sister who are truly grieving, David has two cousins who live in the Houston area - Tommy Thompson and his sister Tara. There are seven other cousins who live in Pennsylvania and Florida, plus numerous great aunts, uncles who are parents to these cousins. He also had two nieces - Gwendolyn Thompson, who lives in California with her mother, and Madison Thompson who lives near Irving, TX.

Sara said...

Nancy, thank you for letting us know about the rich life your beloved son had with you. It will help the rest of us to keep his memory fresh.