Non-NU Email
Well said, Mike et al.,

Can add that Chris was a friend and mentor to all at NMNH, including the technical staff. His spontaneous visits to your office to see how things were, and ask what you were doing...very welcomed. Show him your syrphids from a recent field trip and be prepared for a full analysis of what you had. And he was a great storyteller.  A great loss to systematics, but cool to imagine that he is hovering above us all.


From: Entomological Collections Network Listserve <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Michael A. Ivie <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Saturday, February 6, 2021 3:09 PM
To: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: F. C. "Chris" Thompson
External Email - Exercise Caution

Non-NU Email

This news hit me hard, Chris has been an important person in my life for
decades.  We first were drawn together by more than just insect
systematics, but also because of his love of all things Danish (his
heritage) and my work in the former Danish West Indies. His 1981 Flower
Flies of the West Indies came out a month before I had the cheek to do a
talk at ESA on Fabrician type localities in the West Indies, something
he knew far more about than I.  He was a well established professional
and I a new grad student, but he came to my talk, and introduced
himself.  He could not have been more gracious, and we started a long
friendship.  A few months later, on my first visit to the SI, he gave me
a reprint of his book, which confirmed and expanded on things I
suspected about the history of Fabricius' Virgin Islands species.
While in his office, he pulled down personal copies of rare books from
the earliest days of insect taxonomy, translated critical Danish
passages about Fabricius' connections to the Virgin Islands, and
patiently taught me the intricacies of using Fabricius' works.  I was
totally agog.  His library was a wonder, no one has mentioned his status
as a world-class bibliophile. This was decades before a PDF existed, and
access to these volumes was a rare privilege.

I saw Chris yearly after that.  Before the Dipterists got their act
together for an annual meeting, he would always attend the Coleopterists
Society meetings at ESA, and always accompany us to our after-meeting
bar closing.  He was declared an Honorary Coleopterist one year in
recognition of his encouragement and engagement.  His example of service
to our community, young colleagues, ESA and the founding of ECN was a
career model for my poor attempts to follow.

Chris was ever the most generous person with his time and help. He
always cheerfully checked my latinizations before publications without
once suggesting I could learn Latin myself, he would correct my errors
of understanding of the Code by leading me through the answer, and never
with any judgement.  When I began teaching the Code, he would patiently
clarify questions to make sure I got it right.

I never went to the NMNH without visiting him, and it was always a long
visit in the labyrinth of  his office.  Between ESA Governing Board, NSF
panels and a year working there, and other visits, I was there
relatively often.  His story telling was legend, and he could hold forth
with detail and plot with incredible accuracy, always bouncing up to
grab a book or paper to document his story.  He treated me to lunches at
the Cosmos Club, and he and Ginny once treated Donna and I to a
mind-shattering performance of Phantom of the Opera from the President's
Box (yes, the actual private box of the US President!) at the Lincoln
Center.  He repeatedly tried to recruit me to his beloved NMNH, and
could not fathom how I could possibly want to stay in Montana when
Washington was possible.  He loved that place dearly, but was clear-eyed
about its problems.  Moving to Washington and our political parties were
the only disagreements we ever had, and he was totally gracious about
both - although he was clear I was doubly wrong. My first time at the SI
in my wheelchair, Donna and I met he and Ginny as they packed up his
office to move to Florida. He was horrified that I could not get my
chair into his office, as always, worried about being kind to visitors.

For such a giant to me, I was surprised to see he was only 10 years my
senior, that premature white mane had me fooled all those years.  Gone
to soon, the entomological world is a poorer place without him.

Mike Ivie


Michael A. Ivie, Ph.D., F.R.E.S.

NOTE: two addresses with different Zip Codes depending on carriers

US Post Office Address:
Montana Entomology Collection
Marsh Labs, Room 50
PO Box 173145
Montana State University
Bozeman, MT 59717

UPS, FedEx, DHL Address:
Montana Entomology Collection
Marsh Labs, Room 50
1911 West Lincoln Street
Montana State University
Bozeman, MT 59718

(406) 994-4610 (voice)
(406) 994-6029 (FAX)
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