Adventure inspired PR professional


POSTED: Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Maryellen “;Meg”; Thompson, who helped launch the East-West Center as its first public relations director, died May 8 at a nursing home in San Diego after complications from a fall. She was 94.

Thompson's daughter, Joan Thompson, of La Jolla, Calif., said her mother came to Hawaii from California early in 1952 and worked for the Hawaiian Broadcasting System, which became KGMB-TV that year.

Thompson had a 40-year career in mass media and public relations in Hawaii, California, Alaska, Japan and Washington.

She left Hawaii in 1969 for San Diego, where she worked for Project Concern and Rady Children's Hospital.

She was an adventurer with a passion for travel, her daughter said. Her La Jolla home had a map on the wall with hundreds of pins identifying the places she had visited.

Thompson was born in Grand Haven, Mich., and grew up in the Chicago area. She earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Illinois.

She worked during World War II at what is now Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage, Alaska. After the war she was sent to Tokyo as an information program and policy officer on Gen. Douglas MacArthur's headquarters staff.

Later she worked for the U.S. Information Agency in Washington, D.C., and the U.S. State Department in Honolulu.

She spent a year studying newspapers throughout Asia on a grant from the Association of Women in Communications, known then as Theta Sigma Phi.

She returned to school in her 40s and earned a master's degree in international relations from the University of Southern California.

Thompson considered the East-West Center her most fascinating job, according to a news release. While there seven years, she organized three Asian-American Women's conferences.

“;She enjoyed meeting people from different cultures and hosted parties for them,”; her daughter said.

She also worked for the Red Cross in Honolulu for several years in the mid-1950s.

“;She had a very illustrious career and won a lot of awards,”; her daughter said. She was listed in “;Who's Who in America,”; “;Who's Who in Public Relations,”; “;Men and Women of Hawaii”; and “;Who's Who of American Women.”;

She retired in the late 1970s and traveled extensively to Germany and the Netherlands for three books she wrote about her family history. They are available in the Mormon Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

She also worked as a consultant for other researchers. She was on the board of directors of the San Diego Genealogical Society for six years and was president for a year.

Thompson was active in the National League of American Pen Women and was treasurer of the chapter in San Diego for several years.

She was a volunteer for the La Jolla Presbyterian Church's thrift shop and the police department of the University of California, San Diego.

She is also survived by a sister, Pat Davis. Internment was at Mount Emblem Cemetery in Elmhurst, Ill.