Gaydena Marlene "Gaye" Thompson
1935 - 2019
{ "" }
Share Gaydena's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share

April 9, 1935 ˜ December 31, 2019

Gaydena Marlene (Brown) Thompson, 84, of Vancouver, WA, passed away from natural causes on December 31st, 2019. She was born in Richfield, ID to Charles and Audra Brown. Gaye graduated from Shoshone High School in 1953 and Idaho State University in 1957.
After receiving her master’s degree from Washington State in 1958, Gaye worked as a Physical Education teacher at the University of Idaho, where she met her future husband. One weekend, one of her students, Kenneth Thompson, asked her to a dance in front of all of her students - she declined! After several discussions with the faculty, she finally received permission and agreed to go to the dance with him. In 1962, after Ken graduated, they were married.
Gaye and Ken moved to Vancouver, WA where they gave birth to two sons: Brian and Bradley.
From 1962 to 1997, Gaye was an educator at Clark Community College where she taught swimming, fencing, dancing and multiple fitness classes. In 1977, Gaye was named the first female athletic director in the State of Washington.
Gaye’s 35 years of influence in promoting a philosophy of lifelong fitness and health, even before the trend was fashionable, led to the establishment of a new expanded fitness center at Clark College. In 1992, Gaye’s legacy was honored with completion of the Thompson Fitness Center, and later inducted into the Clark College Hall of Fame.
After retirement, Gaye enjoyed gardening, researching genealogy, quilting, golfing, writing, and sharing time with family and friends.
Gaydena was well loved and respected in her community. As an educator she inspired the next generation to find joy in staying active. As a mother and grandmother, she demonstrated unconditional love. As a friend she was “supportive, encouraging, and she lived the philosophy of a person who looked at life with a glass half-full. She had a joy for living, and it was contagious.”
“If my enthusiasm for what I do has left any impact on students, my colleagues and/or the institution, I hope that it is to be active, self-responsible, positive in nature and to enjoy life!” Gaydena Thompson
Gaydena was preceded in death by her husband, Kenneth; and brother, Charles.
She is survived by her sister, Karen; sons, Brian and Bradley (Nancy); and four grandchildren, Christopher, Katie, Clayton, and Gabriella.
A Celebration of Life will be held on February 1st at 2:00 PM, Gaiser Hall on the Clark College campus located at 1933 Fort Vancouver Way, Vancouver, WA.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Clark College Foundation. area of support-choose “OTHER” and specify Gaydena Thompson Fund.
Please sign her guest book @

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Columbian on Jan. 19, 2020.
Memories & Condolences
Not sure what to say?
5 entries
January 26, 2020
Mrs. Thompson was a wonderful and caring neighbor to me as I grew up on Buena Vista and then lived right next door to me later (also on Buena Vista.!!) She fiercely loved her family and even gave up her precious home to accompany Ken to the assisted living arrangement. She made the best cookies, was probably the most patient and diplomatic person I've met and tolerated the kids' plays and living room performances, lol. You don't run into her type everyday.
Barbara Peterson
January 25, 2020
Gaydena was my lifeguard/WSI instructor in the early 80s. She was fantastic! I saw her a few years ago at the dentist's office and we had a nice chat. So glad I got to see her that one last time. She has left a wonderful legacy.
G Horch
January 21, 2020
I am so sorry to hear that Gaydena has died. She is the sister-in-law of my special neighbor Sadie Rosholt. When I retired we both enjoyed working on projects at Clark County Genealogical Society and sharing our love of genealogy. Gaydena was an amazing person with so many talents. My sympathy to her sons and her family.
Bea (Frahm) Ritter
January 20, 2020
I really loved your mum. She was a force. Her spirit, passion, enthusiasm, her gift of instruction she cared for her students. I was lucky to have her for so many classes. I'm sorry for your loss but she was a beautiful person and will be missed.
Beth Landau
January 20, 2020
Our family moved next door to Gaye and Ken in 1970. We have been blessed to know the Thompson family for 50 years. Very proud that my alma mater Clark College will be honoring Gaye at a celebration of life.
Mark Donaldson
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences