Lisa (Eliza Cobbs) Thompson, 78, passed away Sunday, June 12, 2022, at Edgewood Memory Care in Missoula. Although dementia robbed her of her wonderful mind, she accomplished much in a life fully lived.
Born in Callands, Virginia, Lisa was one of seven children in the Cobbs family, who worked a tobacco farm there. She played half-court high school and college basketball, back when women were only allowed to run half the court. Lisa graduated from Chico State University with a bachelor’s degree in microbiology.
Lisa met Kirk Thompson at a college mixer. Their marriage of 57 years took them far and wide, from New Mexico and California to Idaho and Montana. Avid hikers and backpackers, they enjoyed the mountains and wilderness of the West, hauling along their children also as soon as they could. If music could sum up their life, it would be John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” album.
Whatever Lisa undertook, she put in a lot of hard work and didn’t quit, whether that was mothering, gardening, hiking, campaigning, advocating or volunteering. She was a lab technician in Stevensville, known for expertly drawing blood; she ran for the Montana Legislature twice; she made and sold a lot of pasties with the Democratic Women’s Club; she walked all the way to Helena to protest the state’s deregulation of electric power; she learned calligraphy and volunteered to teach local students the art; she supported Main Street Stevensville, helped maintain national forest and wilderness trails, as well as the benches along the Stevensville river trail; volunteered on the Santa Train; planted flowers to beautify Stevensville; and loved supporting arts and culture around the valley. She also ran the Country Caboose Bed and Breakfast; made amazing huckleberry pancakes; and enjoyed sharing her view of the Bitterroots with those not lucky enough to live here.
Friends know they could rely on Lisa to show up with a pie, a homemade card, or a whole tin of cookies. Lisa loved to cook, so the Gourmet Club was one perfect way to get together with good friends and eat delicious food. She was always ready to help and ready to laugh – or sing. As a Sweet Adeline, she could sing four-part harmony. No excuse was needed to dance a little and smile a lot.
There was much to do at home, but Lisa loved to travel. The weeds could wait if there was a trip to take. She crisscrossed the nation on Amtrak with Kirk; added Hawaii and Alaska and made it to all 50 states. She traveled to Germany; went through the Panama Canal; cruised the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea; and got to see Rome. Lisa and family saw most of Canada by rail and while car-camping. She also ventured with new friends by bus to the balloon festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico, was well as the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.
Even in her seventies, Lisa was still climbing mountains and putting away miles like bowls of ice cream. She stood on top of St. Mary’s Peak and Mt. Sentinel just in the last few years. She most likely has a good view now, too.
Lisa taught us conservation: from saving a piece of shoelace, or a useful container, to a whole forest. She also took other people and other children under her wing and offered an extra hug or a helping hand. The seeds she has sown continue to grow.
Lisa is survived by her loving husband of 57 years, Kirk; 2 children, 3 grandsons, 2 bonus grandchildren, 4 brothers and many nieces and nephews and their families. Lisa is preceded in death by her parents, a brother, and a sister.
A celebration of life will be held on July 25, 2022, at Larry Creek Group Site (Bass Creek). Time is TBD.