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Donald Wayne Thompson

Donald Wayne Thompson, Arizona field-collector extraordinaire, was born on January 7, 1924, in Milvoy, Rush County, Indiana, a son of Hafer Devall Thompson (1883-1971, a laborer in a flour mill in Mesa, Arizona, in 1930, and a house painter and carpenter in Phoenix in 1940) and Leorie Ellen Lemmons (1887-1953). Severe asthma and hay fever forced Donald to quit high school after two years, without graduating, but he eventually became a self-taught naturalist.

Hafer Thompson and family moved to Phoenix ca. 1910, but returned to Indiana ca, 1915. By 1935 the family was back in Arizona, where Donald first settled in Cave Creek, then moved to Phoenix by 1940. Donald and his father were members of the Arizona Bird Club and the Avicultural Society of Arizona; they hosted meetings at their homes in 1948 and 1949); Donald served a term as president. In 1949. On his WWII Army enlistment record his civilian occupation was categorized under “unskilled amusement, recreation, and motion picture occupations.” He helped found the Desert Botanical Gardens in Tempe and worked as Assistant to W. Taylor Marshall, Director of the Gardens.

An article by Tom Tarbox in the February 15, 1949 issue of The Arizona Republic (Phoenix) reported that D. Wayne Thompson of 1950 E. Coronado Street (Phoenix) had a menagerie of live birds in his house: cockatoos and green singing finches from Australia, magpies from Iowa, white zebra finches from China, button quail from the Phillippines, etc. etc. etc. He also had what he considered to be one of the only all-white boxer puppies in the U.S. He was also a model train fancier, and had four complete electric trains. He also had two burros (Ruby and Jeanette). He hand-sewed an Aztec chieftain's costume using over 400 peacock feathers, “which created quite a stir when worn by a Hopi Indian named Eugene Sekaquaptewa at the homecoming week parade at Arizona State College in 1948.”

He also collected minerals, coins, old firearms, Indian relics, Navajo pottery 1400 years old, Indian baskets and bottles. Among other things, he discovered an important pocket of malachite pseudomorphs after azurite at the Piedmont mine in Yavapai County, Arizona, in 1955. He collected vanadinite at the Apache mine, barite at the Weldon mine, pyrite crystals at Big Bug, and various minerals at the Silver Hill mine, among many others.

D. Wayne Thompson was an ornithological and botanical illustrator of some skill. He illustrated a book by W. Taylor Marshall. In the early 1950s he wrote a series of nature articles published by in the Arizona Republic. These were also illustrated by excellent pen and ink drawings signed “D. Wayne Thompson.” In 1962 a new species of beetle from the Cave Creek area, Triplax thompsoni, was named in his honor (Pan-Pacific Entomologist, vol. 38, no. 1).

D. Wayne Thompson was a mentor to his nephew, Wayne Arthur Thompson (born 1950, son of Loren Carlton Thompson), who later became a prominent Arizona mineral collector, mineral dealer and field collector. The younger Wayne, who had been named after his uncle, ended up collecting many of the same things his uncle had, including Indian baskets, pottery and artifacts.

D. Wayne Thompson married a woman named Barbara, in middle age, and together they had three or four children. He died by his own hand on January 4, 1983, at age 58, following a botched open-heart surgery which left him in constant pain. His collections were divided up among his relatives.
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WILSON, Wendell E. (2019)
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The Mineralogical Record - Donald Wayne Thompson
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