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Thompson honors his mother and education with estate gift ot music, math and physics
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Frances Wood Thompson (right), with sister Jane (left) and childhood friend Pat Babb Alexander, visit the Pioneer Woman statue during their childhood in Ponca City. Thompson’s son established an OU piano scholarship in her memory.

A $230,400 estate gift from the late University of Oklahoma alum­nus T. Jay Thompson will benefit students in the disparate fields of piano, math and physics.

Thompson, an Alfred P. Sloan Scholar who was elected to Pi Mu Epsilon national hon­orary mathematics frater­nity during his time at OU, stipulated that half of his gift go to establish a schol­arship fund in his name for math and physics students in the College of Arts and Sciences. The other half was directed to the Weitzenhof­fer Family College of Fine Arts to establish a piano scholarship in honor of his late mother, Frances Wood Thompson, who earned an OU degree in piano and led a distinguished teaching ca­reer.

After completing his 1969 OU bachelor’s in mathemat­ics, T. Jay Thompson earned a juris doctorate and mas­ter’s degree in labor law. He took a second masters in international law from the University of Cambridge in England. Thompson served as a captain in the Judge Ad­vocate General’s Corps of the U.S. Air Force, during which time he tried numerous cases in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Jus­tice. He maintained a private practice focusing on complex business litigation and also repre­sented corporations in labor-related litigation and negotiations. Thompson died in 2015.

Frances Thompson, a native and lifelong resident of Ponca City, studied piano under Spencer Norton, a noted pianist/composer and beloved member of the OU School of Music faculty. She went on to study under pianist Theodora Sturkow-Ryder at the American Academy in Chicago before launching a career teaching piano to Ponca City children. In 1999, she was honored for 50 years of continu­ous service to the Oklahoma Music Teachers Association. Frances also shared her musical talent as a longtime member of the Ponca City Piano Quartet. One of her most memorable experiences was meeting England’s Queen Mother during a visit with T. Jay at the University of Cam­bridge. She passed away in 2011.

“The School of Music deeply appreciates the gen­erosity of the Thompson family,” said Roland Bar­rett, interim director of the School of Music. “Frances Wood Thompson’s love for music and teaching, and her dedication to her own playing, were inspirational to everyone with whom she came into contact.

“This scholarship will greatly assist the School of Music’s piano performance and pedagogy programs as we continue to seek and re­cruit outstanding piano stu­dents, both nationally and internationally,” added Bar­rett, who also serves as OU’s Irene and Julian J. Rothbaum Presidential Professor of Excellence in the Arts and the Henry Zarrow Presidential Professor of Music Theory and Composition.