Bill Thompson Retires

William “Bill” Thompson, Reference Librarian and Professor of English, retired from Western this spring. The Department gathered at the Old Bailey House with friends from across the university to celebrate Bill’s remarkable career and all he has contributed to Western.

At the Bailey House celebration, current department chair Marjorie Allison and former chair Mark Mossman spoke about Bill’s remarkable contributions to teaching, to service, and particularly to his amazing work with the faculty union. Bill himself also spoke, thanking everyone for their generosity, his happiness at having more time to read, and his plans to stay engaged with the university as an Emeritus Professor.

Bill Thompson addresses the crowd

The Mirror & the Lamp interviewed Bill about his decision to retire and his plans for the future.

M&L: Why did you choose to retire this year?

BT: As a friend said you can retire when you’re healthy and young enough to enjoy life or you can retire when you’re ill and too weak to enjoy it. I chose the first option. As Oscar Wilde said, and the divine Oscar had to say about nearly everything, “In life the first four acts are a comedy; the last is a tragedy.” I hope I retired at the middle of of Act Three. If not, I hope to amuse myself and others as best I can. 

M&L: What do you think of as some of your career highlights in your time in the Library and the English department?

BT: It’s sappy to say, but true things are often sappy ones, what I most enjoyed is sharing my enthusiasm for learning and discovery whether it be the population of Togo or the connection between an 18th century romance and a 21st century tale of torture and redemption in Chile. Also the constant revelation that there are so many beautiful books and people in the world though it may not always seem that way. I am a natural pollyanna, which is why I struggled hard to make things better. 

M&L: What will you miss most about being a full-time tenured professor at Western?

BT: So much! Teaching others is a  delight and always a learning experience. I will also miss trying to make Western a better place for faculty, staff, and students. My methods were not always appreciated but the goal was always to decrease misery and increase creativity and joy. 

M&L: You’ll now be an Emeritus Professor. What do the next few years look like for you, and what are you most looking forward to about retirement?

BT: Reading. I look forward to reading new things, and photographing beauty wherever I find it (and it is everywhere). I also hope to visit old friends and make new ones. I also look forward to whatever the unknown has to offer.  But most immediately, I look forward to reading whatever I want whenever I want.