ForeverMissed
While his resume and credentials are very impressive, Stephen Thompson is best remembered for his passionate nature.  Steve went all-out in everything he did.  First and foremost, he gave his heart to the love of his life, Sue, having spent the better part of 50 years building their pretty exciting life together.  He and Sue shared a love of world travel, not just visiting, but immersing themselves in the cultures of places, from South Africa to Southeast Asia; from China to Europe—East and West; and the full span of the Americas—South, Central and North; and more.  Home or during his travels, Steve enjoyed hiking and cycling, education (and more education), compassionate patient care, theatre, music and more with Susan.  Even with all that, Steve still had the capacity to share more broadly.  Together with Sue—she, the chef, and he the sous-chef, pastry chef, oenophile and dedicated vegetable gardener—he shared his love of good food and wine with all who were fortunate to have a seat at their table.  Strong principles, strong family bonds, strong friendships, strong sense of adventure, abundant compassion, great integrity and a little dose of healthy skepticism kept Steve engaged, interested and interesting.

A dedicated baker, Steve educated himself extensively as he worked to create the perfect baguette.  Steve’s breadmaking really is a metaphor for his life as a whole: seek out and then nurture the starter, choose a variety of the best ingredients, massage them all together, and then try to make it better next time (even though it was already top-notch).   And when it doesn’t work out, call it what it is and start over again to do better. 

Born in Cleveland, Steve grew up mostly in Indiana, where he developed his passion for basketball.  He attended Indiana University in Bloomington, then went to New York, where, while working as an inhalation therapist, he met Susan Mateyka, a beautiful RN who was definitely his match.  Sue waited-out the consequences of Steve’s strong principles when he responded to his draft notice by showing up and saying no— that he would not go to Vietnam.  A bit of a blip, he got through it, later going to Harvard Medical School, from which he earned his M.D. in 1977.   

After medical school, the couple relocated to Denver for Steve’s residency in Pediatrics at University of Colorado.  While there, his wife Sue earned her M.D., also at University of Colorado.  They ultimately shared a primary care practice in Denver: Steve doing Pediatrics and Sue doing Internal Medicine.  Never afraid to pivot, Steve decided to do another residency, this time in Anesthesia.  He liked it so much, he talked Sue into doing the same.  After that residency, Steve went to work for South Denver Anesthesiology, where Sue joined him a year later.  The two practiced Anesthesia with that group for several years before tiring of the cold Colorado winters. In 1999, Steve and Sue moved to Tucson, bringing that passion and talent to Southern Arizona Anesthesia, where he worked until retiring in 2013.

Retirement.  The definition of the word involves “ceasing to work.”  That didn’t happen.  He not only baked and cultivated vegetables but he, with his wife, Sue, returned to his primary care roots after retirement, working tirelessly with Casa Alitas, a program that provides compassionate care to immigrants in Tucson. 

Steve was preceded in death by his parents, Robert (Tommy) and JoAnn Thompson, and his sister Kathrine (Katie).  He is survived by his wife Susan Thompson, M.D., his sisters Elizabeth (Libby) Thompson and Martha (Sis) Drane, his brother- and sister-in-law Don and Mary-Ellen Mateyka, his nieces Mia, Nell and Andrea, his nephew Matt, and a huge number of devoted friends he’s made—and kept—throughout his life. 

Steve and Sue have supported many important non-profits over the years, and would prefer that those who want to share their love make a memorial donation, in Stephen Thompson’s name, to one of these, in lieu of sending flowers:

Arizona Theatre Company

Humane Society of Southern Arizona

Planned Parenthood 
Posted by Lynne Bookhout on March 2, 2021
   David and I met Steve and Sue 48 years ago when Steve and I started medical school together. We lived in the same apartment building in Brookline, Massachusetts. It certainly was an anxious time for me, and walking home with Steve many days helped to keep me sane. So this is how I always think of Steve, a calming presence in everyone’s life.
   We are heartbroken to hear that Steve has passed. We did not know that he had COVID and our hearts go out to Sue and their family members and close friends who had to endure that knowledge hoping that he would be one of the lucky ones. I was thinking of Steve the afternoon we heard the news, thinking that maybe we could travel again soon and visit him and Sue in Tucson. That COVID robbed the world of his presence is devastating.
   Steve was gentle, funny, kind, and brilliant. We enjoyed Steve and Sue’s friendship while together in Boston, and loved following their lives with their annual holiday letters. We feel blessed for the few times we were able to see them over the years, and each time it felt like we were picking up right where we had left off before. Never any awkwardness or being ill-at-ease. We are so sad that we will not see him again.
   I think Steve would appreciate this thought: Let us raise a glass of good wine in his memory (perhaps, for Sue, a Syrah), and be thankful for having had him in our lives.
                             David and Lynne Bookhout
Posted by Susan Harvey on March 1, 2021
Sue & I became best of friends in college and shared an apartment in New Haven, CT where we had our first jobs as staff nurses at Yale-New Haven Medical Center. In 1969, Sue moved to NYC and I moved back to upstate NY and she began working at NYU Medical Center. It was clearly one of the best decisions Sue ever made because it was there that she met Steve who would become the love of her life. I first met him on a visit to New York and quickly learned to love his quick wit, his passionate and compassionate politics, and the way he made my best friend laugh. Over the years, it has been a joy to watch their lives together unfold both personally and professionally from their sequential medical school days, to their world travels, and very recently their truly admirable work at the Casa Alitas program. Our visits with Sue & Steve always meant time outdoors in beautiful places, great food and wine, and lots of laughter and we are sorry beyond words that he is gone from our lives. He was a very special man who made the world around him a better, brighter, more caring place and he left us way too early.
Posted by frederick Menick on February 26, 2021
Imitation may be the best form of flattery. And so is respect.
Steve Thompson’s life reflected his uncompromising principles, courage, intellect, and kindness. He lived his life fully as a highly educated physician, world traveler, cyclist, wine and food connoisseur, baker, cook, and humanitarian. He always provided good and interesting company.  Steve lived a successful, curious and remarkable life. There was much to imitate and respect. 
Janelle and Fred Menick
Posted by Debbie Harrington on February 26, 2021
Dear Sue,

As Julie was addressing a note of condolence from she and Steve and Dan and Jeannie she made the observation that to address something to just you "is just not right”. She said that it has always been “Sue and Steve” and anything other than that is very sad. Your relationship made an impact on our kids. We couldn’t agree more with her thought. It was heartbreaking to hear of Steve’s passing. It prompted Deb and I to reflect on how important both of you have been in our lives. 

Deb reflects back to working with you at the West Rox VA, your inspiration, your work ethic and meeting Steve for the first time. One of her most fond memories of Steve was his sense of humor and dry witty comments. We remembered the impacts you and he had on us while living in Boston. Introducing new and different foods like Retsina wine, sweet and sour soup and Red Zinger tea. I am forever indebted to Steve for suggesting to look at the pediatric residency at CU. We thought about the night you guys “bugged out” of Boston on your way to Colorado with water pouring out of the ceiling light fixture. 

Following you guys to Colorado and putting us up with a 4 month old Dan while we were house hunting. Deb remembers dinner at Footers, putting Dan under the table in his infant seat and enjoying the time together. Spending time together skiing, enjoying dinners or going to Hot Rize concerts. Deb remembers going to your medical school graduation “heavily pregnant with Julie”. Having Steve there for Julie’s delivery was reassuring to both of us. Knowing our kids were in great hands with Steve as their pediatrician was also tremendously comforting. The only bit of advice we may have disagreed with was when Steve told us to take Julie for a ride in the car to see if it helped with colic … “but not to drive too close to your house”.

We appreciated your presence at our kids weddings and being able to pick up where we last left off like it was yesterday. In light of Steve’s passing we are very thankful to have been able to spend time with you both in September and spend time with the finer things in life like food, wine, hiking and time with such great friends.

We will all miss Steve deeply. He was a remarkable, caring and devoted human being. We feel fortunate to have been able to call both you and Steve friends. We will never forget “Sue and Steve”.

The Harrington Family
Posted by Martin Anderson on February 24, 2021
Steve was a hero of mine. I volunteered to go to Viet Nam when I was drafted but was sent to Texas.
I only came to realize this when I was a classmate of Sue’s when I talked to Steve and realized that what he had endured was much harsher than most of my fellow soldiers had endured
Sue and Steve became the godparents of my son, Jacob, and asked me if it was important to me if they should have religion to accept this responsibility. I told them no. They should only guide him toward integrity. That was all that I asked for from my children. Sue and Steve had integrity in spades. Jacob is medically retired and has a Purple Heart.
I love both of them and stand ready to help in any way
Martin Anderson
Scarborough, ME
Posted by Kathleen Hodges on February 24, 2021
Dear Sue:
I had no idea that Steve was sick. I am utterly shocked and dismayed that he is gone from you and sooooooo many people who loved him so extremely. I will forever bear witness to what a special man he was and what a special couple you both created. I really loved him as an amazing human being. I loved the yearly Christmas updates; they were so well-written, newsy and personal. I am failing to offer any comfort because I am so affected by this news. I can just imagine what you are feeling. I am so sorry. Those words may seem empty but they are to be said. Sorrow, sadness, pain, broken...all words but none sufficient to acknowledge such a loss of a great soul from this earth. My tears won’t stop. I AM SORRY and I love you and wish you peace and comfort. I AM SO SORRY. Love, love, and more love from me/us. Kathleen Hodges and Jonathan Hodges

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Recent Tributes
Posted by Lynne Bookhout on March 2, 2021
   David and I met Steve and Sue 48 years ago when Steve and I started medical school together. We lived in the same apartment building in Brookline, Massachusetts. It certainly was an anxious time for me, and walking home with Steve many days helped to keep me sane. So this is how I always think of Steve, a calming presence in everyone’s life.
   We are heartbroken to hear that Steve has passed. We did not know that he had COVID and our hearts go out to Sue and their family members and close friends who had to endure that knowledge hoping that he would be one of the lucky ones. I was thinking of Steve the afternoon we heard the news, thinking that maybe we could travel again soon and visit him and Sue in Tucson. That COVID robbed the world of his presence is devastating.
   Steve was gentle, funny, kind, and brilliant. We enjoyed Steve and Sue’s friendship while together in Boston, and loved following their lives with their annual holiday letters. We feel blessed for the few times we were able to see them over the years, and each time it felt like we were picking up right where we had left off before. Never any awkwardness or being ill-at-ease. We are so sad that we will not see him again.
   I think Steve would appreciate this thought: Let us raise a glass of good wine in his memory (perhaps, for Sue, a Syrah), and be thankful for having had him in our lives.
                             David and Lynne Bookhout
Posted by Susan Harvey on March 1, 2021
Sue & I became best of friends in college and shared an apartment in New Haven, CT where we had our first jobs as staff nurses at Yale-New Haven Medical Center. In 1969, Sue moved to NYC and I moved back to upstate NY and she began working at NYU Medical Center. It was clearly one of the best decisions Sue ever made because it was there that she met Steve who would become the love of her life. I first met him on a visit to New York and quickly learned to love his quick wit, his passionate and compassionate politics, and the way he made my best friend laugh. Over the years, it has been a joy to watch their lives together unfold both personally and professionally from their sequential medical school days, to their world travels, and very recently their truly admirable work at the Casa Alitas program. Our visits with Sue & Steve always meant time outdoors in beautiful places, great food and wine, and lots of laughter and we are sorry beyond words that he is gone from our lives. He was a very special man who made the world around him a better, brighter, more caring place and he left us way too early.
Posted by frederick Menick on February 26, 2021
Imitation may be the best form of flattery. And so is respect.
Steve Thompson’s life reflected his uncompromising principles, courage, intellect, and kindness. He lived his life fully as a highly educated physician, world traveler, cyclist, wine and food connoisseur, baker, cook, and humanitarian. He always provided good and interesting company.  Steve lived a successful, curious and remarkable life. There was much to imitate and respect. 
Janelle and Fred Menick
Recent stories

"Listen to the river sing sweet songs to rock my soul" - Grateful Dead

Shared by Susan McLane on February 27, 2021
My wife, Susan McLane, and I, Hal Smith, were Alaskan snowbirds in Tucson with few friends several years ago when volunteering at the Casa Alitas we first met Sue and Steve. We soon felt enveloped by them in a warm friendship that has impacted our lives deeply. Maybe it was the connection I felt with Steve that we had both spent many years in Indiana and had both attended Indiana U in Bloomington. Or maybe that we thought so strongly against an unjust war that we both became conscientious objectors to it; or that as life flowed on, we both developed a deep and abiding appreciation of The Grateful Dead. But in reality it was Sue and Steve's gracious attitudes towards us that we felt such an immediate bond of friendship.

Steve's lively sense of humor and wry wit made being around so much sadness and pain at the Casa much more bearable. We were always excited to know they would be working as their competence was soothing to the migrants, and their presence such a positive reassurance to those of us who worked with them.

We began going out to dinner with them and were in invited to their home many times. That is where we really learned how gifted they both were. Steve would bake baguettes rivaling those we had eaten in France and make desserts we had only seen in high-end restaurants. Sue's cooking was always something we drove home raving about and wondering if we could ever reproduce the recipes. They worked together cooking like a professional team as we would sit in awe sipping on wines selected by the ever gracious oenophile, Steve.

Although we only knew Steve for a few short years, we consider ourselves blessed to have even been a part of his life for that amount of time. His legacy will go forth by all who knew him, and we will certainly aspire to live a life as full and as rich as his. Rest in music, Steve!



Remembering Steve

Shared by Debbie Harrington on February 26, 2021
Dear Sue,


As Julie was addressing a note of condolence from she and Steve and Dan and Jeannie she made the observation that to address something to just you "is just not right”.  She said that it has always been “Sue and Steve” and anything other than that is very sad.  Your relationship made an impact on our kids.  We couldn’t agree more with her thoughts.  It was heartbreaking to hear of Steve’s passing.  It prompted Deb and I to reflect on how important both of you have been in our lives.  


Deb reflects back to working with you at the West Rox VA, your inspiration, your work ethic and meeting Steve for the first time.  One of her most fond memories of Steve was his wry sense of humor and dry witty comments.  We remembered the impacts you and he had on us while living in Boston.  Introducing new and different foods like Retsina wine, sweet and sour soup and Red Zinger tea.  I am forever indebted to Steve for suggesting to look at the pediatric residency at CU.  We thought about the night you guys “bugged out” of Boston on your way to Colorado with water pouring out of the ceiling light fixture.  


Following you guys to Colorado and putting us up with a 4 month old Dan while we were house hunting.  Deb remembers dinner at Footers, putting Dan under the table in his infant seat and enjoying the time together.  Spending time together skiing, enjoying dinners or going to Hot Rize concerts.  Deb remembers going to your medical school graduation “heavily pregnant with Julie”.  Having Steve there for Julie’s delivery was reassuring to both of us.  Knowing our kids were in great hands with Steve as their pediatrician was also tremendously comforting.  The only bit of advice we may have disagreed with was when Steve told us to take Julie for a ride in the car to see if it helped with colic … “but not to drive too close to your house”.


We appreciated your presence at our kids weddings and being able to pick up where we last left off like it was yesterday.  In light of Steve’s passing we are very thankful to have been able to spend time with you both in September and spend time with the finer things in life like food, wine, hiking and time with such great friends.


We will all miss Steve deeply.  He was a remarkable, caring and devoted human being.  We feel fortunate to have been able to call both you and Steve friends.  We will never forget “Sue and Steve”.


The Harrington Family

When I first knew Steve

Shared by Marilyn Bancel on February 25, 2021
Steve Thompson was a star on the forensics team at North Central High School in Indianapolis. On the way to speech meets, he rode in the front of the bus with the dramatics people. We younger extemp and impromptu people huddled in the back and punched up our pillows hoping for a few more minutes of sleep. The bus left the school for these Saturday events all over Indiana at 7 a.m. sharp. Later in the afternoon, when they handed out the awards, one would go to Steve for “dramatic interpretation,” and if there was a radio division, he won that, too. He was superb.

So it was no surprise that he was cast as the lead in his senior year in the play “One Foot in Heaven.” He played the Rev. William H. Spence, a pastor who had given up his medical training to devote himself to the service of others. (A bit close to the mark if you ask me.) I was cast as the wealthy church goer Mrs. Sandow whom the Reverend finally succeeds in getting to hand over major bucks. (I later went into fundraising.) But never mind all that. The important part is that I finally got to know Steve.  

What a gem he was. He went on to Indiana University as a psych major and displayed another amazing talent that must have served him well in future years: he could get by on four hours of sleep. I know this because the next year I also enrolled at IU and on walks around campus he told me so. And he always told the truth. 

We remained in touch through college, and so it was that I learned about Steve’s travails with the Indianapolis draft board. Once drafted, he attempted to register as a conscientious objector, but they wouldn’t buy it, Too late, they said. Insincere, they said. But Steve said he simply was not going to do the government’s bidding to kill people. Period. And since he was not interested in escaping to Canada either, he was arrested and there was a trial. At the trial Steve stated his case, whereupon the judge banged his gavel, declared Steve “a dangerous intellectual,” and sentenced him to three years in the federal penitentiary. Wow.

About six months later I drove with his parents and sister Katie from Indianapolis to visit him in prison in Marion, Illinois. Through the visitor glass he said that he had been given a tolerable job in the prison admin office and that his cell mate had taught him how to crack a safe. So he didn’t feel he was entirely wasting his time. A year later he was paroled back to Indianapolis for 18 months, ankle monitor and everything, and confined to the county. Casting about, he got a job, if memory serves, as an orderly in Riley Hospital in Indianapolis. Medicine!  

I next saw Steve about two years later in Boston where he was attending med school and living with the divine Sue. Can there be many better joys than seeing a dear friend matched with the perfect person? I had been adventuring in Turkey and running a cottage craft business there with my then-husband (a folkdancer from Queens) designing and jobbing out hippie clothes using fabulous ethnic textiles. Would Steve be interested in trying to sell some Sultan’s Shirt Tail goods for us? Yes, he would. 

So we took him some samples. Well, Steve did not make us rich, but nearly 50 years later he came to my 70th birthday party wearing one of those stripey tops.  

No one who knows me has not heard about Steve’s principled refusal to go kill in Vietnam and the price he paid for that. Now they’ve been hearing about his and Sue’s work with immigrants in Tucson. So many years of admiration. He just can’t be gone. 

By the way, did I tell you about the time Steve found something so funny he couldn’t stop laughing and finally, helplessly, rolled off the couch onto the floor? 

Or about the Indiana cornfield so packed with sparkling fireflies they became the whole show and will forever light my memory of Steve?

-Marilyn Bancel