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Another Angel In Heaven…

September 16th, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments
Here Marjorie and I pick together at the FPR

Here Marjorie and I pick together at the FPR

Whether or not you believe in angels and heaven… allow me this mixed spiritual metaphor… there is another angel in Heaven today. Our dear friend Marjorie Thompson, passed away yesterday. She was such an amazing person… if your go to the Brown Daily Herald today, her list of accomplishments is legend. She was my colleague and my rabbi in so many ways. A professional educator all of her adult life, I learned so many things from her about teaching. As many have said, she was a force of nature.

Bob D., Marjorie and Paul K.

Bob D., Marjorie and Paul K.

She was a rock to her friends… a fierce champion and a sheltering sky… a foundation for her family and those close to her. She and I were speaking together three weeks ago…it was not a goodbye conversation, we talked about some of our next classes at the Fur Peace Ranch. ‘I’ll call you back,’ she said. Those were her last words to me. It seems unthinkable that we shall never speak again this side of the river.

I am rarely at a loss for words… but they are not coming to me tonight. Vanessa said it so beautifully in her note… I offer it here with her permission:

‘It is with a heavy heart that I let you all know that our dear friend, Marjorie Thompson passed away yesterday. As you all can imagine, this is not only an extremely difficult time for her family, equally so for all of us at the Fur Peace Ranch.

Marjorie was a part of the fabric that weaved together all of us and all of you in music and friendship. She was an amazing person who tirelessly gave of herself and her time to teach side by side with Jorma (The Captain).

She also taught her own classes and those of you that were lucky enough to sit in one of them understands the value that her role played as one of our instructors. If you knew her, you know she was an awesome force of nature…not only as your guitar teacher but as a woman and the Associate Dean of the Biology Dept. at Brown University, as a mother to her 7 amazing children and wife to her husband Ian. To say she will be missed does not touch the surface of how much we will feel her loss. I have so much more to say about her…but mostly she was my friend and a champion of ours and the vision we all had about giving back through the glory of music.

I can tell you that we will honor her memory with a memorial at the Fur Peace Ranch. Details will be shared in the coming months so that all of you who loved her as much as we did can be a part of a celebration of her life.

Thank you all,


A gentle but indomitable spirit has left this earth, and we are the poorer for it. There may another star in the firmament tonight… but I would that it be here instead.

Fair winds and following seas little sister… we miss you and will always hold you dear in our hearts.

Sing it girl... sing it loud...

Sing it girl... sing it loud...

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  1. September 16th, 2014 at 21:56 | #1

    Really sorry to hear this news. I only met Marjorie one time when I visited FPR in 2010, but respected her very much. Roger

  2. Ben
    September 16th, 2014 at 22:11 | #2

    Shocked and saddened. I thought we were going to see her again this weekend at the Ranch, and now… this.
    Well, now she’s folkin’ and rollin’ in heaven; but we’re sure gonna miss her here on earth.

  3. carlo pagliano
    September 17th, 2014 at 03:49 | #3

    Sad sad news. I found relief in you words and Vanessa’s!

  4. mutt
    September 17th, 2014 at 04:53 | #4

    And I only met this Angel of Heaven once.
    May God rest her soul.
    May Peace be amongst the family and friends left in her wake.

    Love and Peace Fur All


  5. Paul
    September 17th, 2014 at 04:59 | #5

    “She was a rock to her friends… a fierce champion and a sheltering sky… a foundation for her family and those close to her.”

    Those words ring true for me. She was always there when I needed advice and an ear. I am rocked to my core by this. It is a void for me that is hard to imagine. I know so many others feel that way as well. I knew the “music” side of her, but since 1999 shared many other aspects of her life involving work and family. When I read her amazing obituary, I went to the comments and saw the things that people in the Brown University community were saying about our Marjorie. I smiled. It was clear that no matter what world she was floating in, whether it was the world of music, academia or whatever……. She touched people and she made a difference in their lives. She went from sitting by my side in class to sitting by Jorma’s side as his assistant. She went from a terrified performer to a self assured pro. It seems like there was NOTHING she couldn’t do if she set her formidable mind to it.

    Jorma, I know how deeply you and Vanessa loved her. She was such an intergral part of the amazing community you have built and nurtured in those peaceful rolling hills. I cannot imagine being there in November without her……..

    As I write this, I am sitting here still shaking my head in disbelief. Back in August, in an email and in her own inimitable way, she let me know that she was making preparations to leave the people who loved her. Since that terrible email, I knew that this day was comming. Even though I knew, it did not lessen the shock and saddness that I feel.

    Marjorie wrote a song called “Time to Go.” It was always my favorite tune of hers. We had a conversation about that song many years ago. If I remember it correctly, she wrote it for a friends father who was dying. If you want to know what a deep and beautiful person Marjorie was, I suggest you go to itunes and listen to that song. I will miss you so much Marjorie. The thought that I will never see you again and speak to you again if very difficult to bear.

  6. Ellie Kohler
    September 17th, 2014 at 05:01 | #6

    I got to meet Marjorie a couple of times at the Ranch. She was always so sweet. Several years ago, when I wanted to buy my granddaughter a guitar, she gave me invaluable advice about how to pick out the right one. I was so grateful to her for that. I know she’ll be missed by many friends and loved ones.

  7. HOGAN
    September 17th, 2014 at 07:23 | #7

    Jorma, Vanessa and Family,

    Very sorry to hear of the loss of your good friend.
    Sending comfort and prayers to all of you and the Thompson family.


  8. Jim J
    September 17th, 2014 at 08:04 | #8

    Beautifully said by both you and Vanessa. My condolences to you and the Fur Peace family. I was anticipating seeing her there, again, this fall with you. Now I’m shocked and saddened, and know there will be a void in the workshop and the dining room without her.

  9. Steve Comeau
    September 17th, 2014 at 08:14 | #9

    I’ve always felt that life is bittersweet at best and this sad news reinforces that belief.

    I was an FPR virgin with Marjorie in Jorma’s August 1999 workshop. I remember the amazement we all felt when heard that gorgeous voice emanate from this shy, unassuming woman who shared our passion for music. I remember all of us encouraging her to do more with her gifts and, in retrospect, I realize that we were witnessing the blossoming of a beautiful flower.

    Marjorie was real. She told us so and bared her soul in her songs. She made us laugh and she also confessed to the frailties and darkness of life. Yet, she always looked forward. Always planning and executing one outstanding project after another. I wish I had a tenth of her energy and motivation.

    I was not as close to Marjorie as some of the other ranchers, but I felt her love and joy every time we reconnected at the ranch. I will miss that we cannot reconnect again. She truly was special.

    Today, I’m reminded of these lyrics from the Subdudes “Carved in Stone”:

    “Carved in stone, is a name I will remember
    Flesh and bone, and a heart that was so tender

    Carry on, and have yourself a lovely ride
    Think of me, when you finally reach the other side…”

    Travel well sweet Marjorie.

  10. September 17th, 2014 at 08:34 | #10

    Condolences to all who are as crushed as I by this terribly sad news. Marjorie was such a solid force. They must have needed another angel in heaven.

  11. Brett
    September 17th, 2014 at 09:04 | #11

    My heart is broken by this news.

    Marjorie also let me know back in August that her time on this side was very short, but it still felt like a ton of bricks fell on me this morning when I read Vanessa’s e-mail.

    I will forever cherish the time I spent with Marjorie.

    Since meeting her at my first FPR weekend in 2007, I tried to always catch one of her gigs when she came thru North Carolina.

    She was Jorma’s TA when I attended his workshop in 2008, and I was lucky enough to have attended her FPR workshop in 2009.

    At the Student performance the weekend I attended her workshop, I STRUGGLED thru a rendition of True Religion, kept on playing thru all the mistakes, and finally, SOMEHOW made it to the end of the song…..(and…without breaking the groove) I later whined at Marjorie about how poorly I had done on stage.

    In her own, inimitable Marjorie style she paused, and said “No Brett, don’t beat up on yourself, it was a very……(another pause) Servicable performance. Makes me smile every time I think about it.

    Thank you, THANK YOU Miss Marjorie…..My Sensei, and my friend.

    See you on the other side.


  12. cyndy consentino
    September 17th, 2014 at 09:22 | #12

    Dear Jorma, Vanessa and FPR family.

    Such very sad news. I am so sorry to hear of the loss of Marjorie. May she rest in Peace.

    Love and comfort to all of you, and to Marjorie’s family and friends as well


  13. Anna Stegemoeller
    September 17th, 2014 at 09:44 | #13

    As my teacher, there is part of Marjorie in me. That part is aching with loss. I appreciate all of your words as they help the ache trickle down my face. Somehow I see a beautiful wooden boat…the battleship Marjorie, with her beautiful features and blowing hair carved in wood at the bow of the boat…going forth with a lyrical and soulful spirit to face whatever comes. You are all in my prayers as we pass through this time and feel our deep love – the deep love she nurtured in us all.


  14. John b
    September 17th, 2014 at 10:01 | #14

    so sorry.

  15. johno
    September 17th, 2014 at 10:16 | #15

    she will surely be missed. so sorry.

  16. Kate Sullivan
    September 17th, 2014 at 10:24 | #16

    All of you have stated such beautiful sentiments and at the moment I don’t think I can improve on any of the comments. I do have a wonderful memory that I would like to share. The second time Marjorie was to perform at a house concert that I hosted, she asked if I would “open” for her. My immediate response was “NO”. I kept asking myself “Why would I perform in front of friends and family?” Who needs that kind of stress? Needless to say, I was convinced to perform with loads of encouragement from her as well as from Dennis Powell. She started me on a new path with more road to cover. Oh Marjorie……..every time I pick up your Huss and Dalton guitar, I will be holding you dearly in my heart.

  17. September 17th, 2014 at 10:28 | #17

    so sorry for your loss

  18. Julie Nigro
    September 17th, 2014 at 11:43 | #18

    What a class act! Beautiful, smart, insightful and patient. Danny and I woke up listening to her CD, “Good Fast and Cheap” this morning. She signed it “For Julie and Dan XO Marjorie”. I am so luck to have this memory with me.

  19. Joey Hudoklin
    September 17th, 2014 at 12:16 | #19

    Oh how sad. Marjorie helped me immensely during my visits to FPR. So kind and patient. It was a real treat listing to her perform inside the dining room. I’m saddened by this news. She reached out to me by phone in order to personally evaluate my playing ability so I was comfortable with everything. she was obviously a very giving, un-selfish person who could be counted on by many. I am in grief that her time was short, but happy it was indeed, not wasted in the least.
    Prayers are in order.

  20. Steve Finkelstein
    September 17th, 2014 at 13:01 | #20

    It was so sad and depressing to learn of Marjorie’s passing. My deep condolences to her husband and children, you and Vanessa, as well as all of the other FPR family and fellow students. Her warm,graceful and talented spirit will be sorely missed by all who were touched by her.
    A prayer we Jews say every Friday night reminds me of this special lady:
    “A woman of valor, who can find? Her worth is far above jewels.” Proverbs 31.

  21. Dan
    September 17th, 2014 at 20:01 | #21

    Never met her but judging by the comments she must have been wonderful. RIP young gal:(

  22. Tim from Philly
    September 17th, 2014 at 20:54 | #22

    So sorry for your loss. Be well, be strong, J, V and all who knew her.

  23. Bob K.
    September 17th, 2014 at 23:47 | #23

    we send our condolences to her family and all of you. may you find peace,,,.Namaste…

  24. phil zisook
    September 19th, 2014 at 11:42 | #24

    I’ve never met Marjorie but she sounds like a wonderful person. My condolences to you, Vanessa, Izzy and extended family.

  25. johno
    September 19th, 2014 at 11:58 | #25

    ‘Come to your house and it won’t stay long – look around the room – one of your family will be gone’

  26. Peter
    September 19th, 2014 at 13:11 | #26

    Marjorie was so generous with her time and expertise. Those of us dependent on tab were her appreciative beneficiaries. Really glad to have been her student for those 4 wonderful days last April.

  27. Pete
    September 20th, 2014 at 01:11 | #27

    johno :
    ‘Come to your house and it won’t stay long – look around the room – one of your family will be gone’

    Marjorie was family alright. I can’t imagine how difficult it will be to be at the Ranch this weekend. Stay strong my Fur Peace family.

  28. Joanne
    September 23rd, 2014 at 10:37 | #28

    Sending you and Fur Peace Family my deepest sympathy for the loss Marjorie.

  29. Bill
    October 4th, 2014 at 12:58 | #29

    Her Heart was so big, her Love will never fade away. She is an example of how to live your life. We are all only here for a short time, and she made the most of it.