Raymond F. Thompson Jr. and William A. Fry were scouting where they wanted to build their home when they spotted a sign heralding the future site of the Oro Valley Public Library.
The retired literature professors had spent most of their lives in Washington, D.C., but had fallen in love with the Tucson area when they came out for a friend’s wedding years earlier.
In particular, they were drawn to the small-town atmosphere they found in Oro Valley. They became involved in their neighborhood, and the library as soon as it opened.
“It’s a wonderful community, and the library is really the ... cultural centerpiece,” said Fry, noting that the library’s parking lot is usually full.
The move also allowed Thompson to expand his love of gardening. Back in Washington they had lived along the Potomac and Thompson had grown vegetables — from tomatoes and squash to onions and cucumbers, on their balcony. “People were always amazed at what he could do,” Fry said. Thompson had also gone on to earn an advanced degree in educational counseling.
In Oro Valley, Thompson planted rose bushes, more than 20, around their home. His favorite color was yellow and the “Henry Fonda” was his favorite rose.
He had planted another rose bush and some seeds the day before he died suddenly in April.
His obituary, which ran in the Washington Post and the Arizona Daily Star, requested that in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to the Oro Valley Public Library and to the Friends of the Oro Valley Public Library. As of this week, nearly $7,000 has been received.
Library officials felt that it would be most fitting that those donations have funded the library system’s eighth, and newest, seed library.
The Thompson Seed Library will be dedicated on Thursday on what would have been his 66th birthday.
The seed library has already opened, and Fry said it is gratifying to see that people are already take seeds home.
“It’s a living ongoing memorial — what could be better?” Fry said.
“If only he could see what’s going on,” Fry said, then paused. “Somehow I think he probably does.”