Walt’s Story

Walter “Walt” Thompson loved to help others. Over the years, he spent many hours volunteering as a coordinator for Caribbean cultural events, school & team fundraisers as well as coaching youth soccer.

“My Dad was the type of person who understood the humanity underlying all of what we call the world, life, experience. He had this quiet acceptance of people as they were, understanding that most people are doing the best they can with the information, resources, and experiences they have,” shared his son Mashama Thompson.

In his late sixties, Walt was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, a form of cancer in which only 30% of patients are eligible for surgery. Fortunately, Walt was one of those patients and the surgery was successful. During his time in post-surgery treatment, Walt became very close to other cancer patients, as well as to his medical providers. He was very appreciative for the care he received and often spoke of his desire to “give back to the cancer community.”

Walter often spoke of the positive impact cancer had on his life. He and his wife, AHS Patient Navigator Linda Carter, were married for 38 years and had three children. Always a devoted husband and father, Walter voiced that cancer made him an even better husband, father, and human being. During his cancer journey, Walter and Linda had wonderful new experiences and heartfelt conversations. Sadly, Walt’s cancer returned and he passed away in August of 2014.

Linda created the Walter Thompson Memorial Fund to honor an exceptional man and his oft expressed desire to “give back.”  Their family, friends, Walt’s clients from his thirty-six year old landscaping business, his teammates as well as AHS staff, have all contributed. The Fund, which is held at Alameda Health System Foundation, is presently earmarked to provide to women who have a gynecological cancer, essential assistance, such as vouchers for parking and transportation, food and some housing assistance. This helps break down barriers to access to medical care and treatment.

Recently, in honor of her December birthday, each of Linda and Walt’s children personally donated to the fund. Additionally, 510 Media, a 14-year old Oakland-based branding company co-founded by their son, Mashama Thompson and his business partner, Nana Nti, made a $2,500 donation to the Fund.

“Pops was a man of few words.  However, in those last years, he told me he loved me more times than in all of my life. Now, I knew he loved me, he showed it constantly in his actions. However, during that time, he made it a point to say the words. So that is his legacy, love in action, turned into love in words. To grow more into yourself in spite of the data and the meanings others might assign. To show up to death the way you lived your life.” said Mashama.

“For me, those are the ideals I hold close, the lessons I learned and the impact that I share. For me, his fund is about helping people to achieve some of that solace, grace and comfort as they traverse difficult paths of diagnosis and survival. Life isn’t a destination, it’s a dance. The point is to dance while the music is still playing. My dad loved to dance.”

And so, Walt’s giving, loving spirit lives on through the Walter Thompson Memorial Fund, and he continues to help others and to give back many-fold to those in need.

To contribute to Walt’s Fund, please make checks payable to The Walter Thompson Memorial Fund and mail to AHS Foundation, 350 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Ste 900, Oakland, CA 94612.  Or visit Alameda Health System Foundation’s website: foundationahs.org, Click on “Donate”, then click “Tribute Gift” and in “Your Message to Us”, type in Walter Thompson Memorial Fund. 

For more information on how you can support Alameda Health System’s critical patient care needs, please contact Nyjeri Whipps at nwhipps@alamedahealthsystem.org.

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