Richard C. Thompson 1945 - 2021

Born in June of 1945, Richard Thompson grew up as a farm kid in the small town of Dayton, Oregon, on a road that bears his family name. As a third-generation Oregonian and well-traveled optimist, he was a man who loved America and its landscapes and believed deeply in the good of his fellow human. This informed his dynamic life--one devoted to art, family, stewardship and story. His humble wisdom, playful humor and twinkling smile added color to the canvas of his vibrant life and prolific art career. Diagnosed in April 2020 with glioblastoma, he navigated his last months with grace until he died in February 2021 while visiting New Mexico, the very place where he planted seeds for his exuberant life.

After discovering his passion for art through his roommate's leftover oil paints at Oregon State University, Richard left his Pacific Northwest home for the expansive, high desert of New Mexico to study fine art in 1965 at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. He emerged on the national art scene in 1974 in the Whitney Museum Biennial (NYC), and spent the next 45 years creating and teaching as a widely recognized American modernist painter. He met the love of his life, Kymberli Contreras, while teaching at the University of Texas in Austin in the 1990s. His academic career led them to upstate New York, where he became Dean of the School of Art & Design in the New York College of Ceramics at Alfred University.

In 2005, Richard and Kymberli returned to Dayton, where they designed their lives with color, laughter and love in his old family farmhouse. These years were spent in the studio, painting, exhibiting, listening deeply and giving sage advice at his favorite coffee places, serving his community, and fly-fishing in his beloved Northwest waters.

Richard truly cared about the people around him. He was authentic, open and wildly funny. He remembered everyone’s names and, most importantly, their stories.

He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Kymberli Contreras; his beloved daughter, Myrdin Jhana Thompson (Justin Moore); grandchildren, Seth, Jonah and Finn Thompson; as well as his mother-in-law, Carolyn Contreras; sister-in-law, Kaysi Contreras; and niece, Isis Blu Tumason. He was preceded in death by his parents, Vernon and Nadine Thompson (Peters); and his cherished wife, Viki Florence.

Richard Thompson’s works are included in the permanent collections of numerous university and corporate collections, such as the University of Texas at Austin and Apple Computer; numerous museums, such as the Portland Art Museum. the Hallie Ford Museum, and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, all in Oregon, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the San Antonio Museum of Art, Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Gund Collection in Boston, the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art in New Mexico and the Edinburg Museum of Modern Art in Scotland.

An outdoor memorial service for Richard will be held on Saturday, June 26, at the family farm in Dayton. For more information on the service or donations in his honor, please email


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