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Remembering Warren Thompson

For almost our entire history, Warren Thompson facilitated countless support groups at Gilda’s Club. On occasion, if we were truly lucky, he dabbled in calling Bingo and burning up the dance floor at one of our many Clubhouse potlucks over the years. He never failed to immediately seek out a brownie as soon as he walked in the door. To me, he will always be one of the biggest celebrators of life I’ve ever known, never hiding his tears or containing his laughter. He has meant the world to this community, and to me personally for the last 20 years, the full length of my career here.

I first met Warren in the summer of 2003. I was in my early 20s and had just started as an undergraduate intern at Gilda’s Club. I was nervous and eager all at once to start gaining experience in support groups. That summer, I was encouraged by Felice Apolinsky, our founding Program Director, to sit in on Warren’s Grieving the Loss of a Spouse group. Through my first summer at Gilda’s Club, two subsequent years of a social work graduate program, and another year of clinical internship, Warren became a treasured mentor and friend. From that first experience in his group, I knew that what he was helping foster in that space was unique to his skill, style, and personal experience with grief.

Warren helped build community in the midst of some of the hardest times in people’s lives and maintained those relationships for years, and in some cases, decades. He was honored that people shared the most difficult moments of life with him and relished the times when he got to celebrate joyful milestones as well—new relationships, graduations, weddings, and babies.

Warren and Heather Taylor Parham
Warren and Heather Taylor Parham

For a span of more than two decades, Warren taught me, as well as numerous other clinical interns, group facilitators, and Gilda’s Club members, what it looks like as a clinician and human to honor and sit with people in the midst of their grief, to welcome joy and laughter when it comes, and to never hesitate in showing people how much you love them. He will forever be an integral part of why I continue to love this work and our Gilda’s Club community.

Thank you, Warren, for helping us make this place what it is today. We miss you. We love you.

From Warren’s Group Members

“After my husband Russell passed away, in June of 2020, I immediately signed up for “Life after Loss”. Warren Thompson was our facilitator. It was painful to see and hear others grieving while I was in the most devastating place of my life, but I kept coming. I attended three six-week series. I listened, I learned, I shared, I stayed until I could breathe again. I found the group to be a safe place for eighteen weeks to cry and decompress with people who didn’t try to fix me.

Warren’s warmth and jovial spirit is just what I needed. He was not bashful in sharing the impact of losing his spouse; this made room for open engagement and a comfortable place to begin the grieving process. I am indebted to Warren and the group members for the compassionate manner in which the mission was executed.”

Tara Seay – Group Member

“Our family (David, Melody, Lee, Evan, and Ketley) will be forever grateful for Warren’s guidance. He taught us how to recognize the pathway through the cancer storm of Evan’s diagnosis. He became David and my father figure, laughing and crying with us, giving us calm amongst the unrest. Warren kept a photo of Evan on his bike and told us that he says Evan’s name aloud every night. That level of love and promise will be sorely missed. But how fortunate we are to have been a part of Warren’s life.

Thank you, Gildas Club. Thank you, Warren. Your love and kindness will always be in our hearts.”

Melody Johnson – Group Member

Warren’s Children: Kate, Brendan, and Nick

A Note from Brendan Thompson

“When I look back on my father’s life, his one crowning achievement in my eyes was how well he held our family together when our mom passed away in 1995 from cancer. I can only imagine how hard it was for him to make sure his three teenage children would be ok in the long run while simultaneously processing his own grief. The fact that he not only gave our family an amazing second chapter but also helped others do the same through his work with Gilda’s Club is something my siblings and I will always be proud of. My dad lived to help others and Gilda’s Club gave him an opportunity to help shepherd people through the most difficult chapter of their lives. While his death leaves a big void in our family, the example he set on how to care for your community and those in need will live on for years.”

Dr. Warren Thompson wrote an account of his life to serve as his obituary. You can read more here.