Gail ‘JoAnne’ Thompson

EAST BERNE — Gail JoAnne Thompson, who handed down values like honesty and compassion from her parents to her children, died at home on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019, surrounded by her family. She was 72.

Mrs. Thompson was born Dec. 10, 1946, to Russell and Lois (née Hildenbrandt) Frey. According to Mrs. Thompson’s husband, Ralph, her father wanted to name her Gail, while her mother wanted to name her JoAnne. They compromised with Gail as a first name and JoAnne as a middle name.

“But nobody ever called her Gail,” said Mr. Thompson.

Mrs. Thompson lived with her parents in Colonie, until the state took over their property to build the Thruway. The family moved to Westerlo and lived near the intersection of routes 85 and 143.

Mrs. Thompson met her future husband in school, but as Mr. Thompson was four years older and soon leaving for the military, they didn’t begin dating until 1964, when he got back. 

“We went to the Shell Inn and ate dinner and shot pool,” Mr. Thompson said of their first date. They married less than a year later at the Pine Grove United Methodist Church, in Colonie, and remained together until her death. 

Mrs. Thompson took a job at Sears, working in the store’s repair shop, back when they fixed home appliances. At home, “she enjoyed reading, gardening, [and] cooking,” her family wrote in a tribute, which goes on to describe her as “a woman … who prided herself by the moral values and compassion that she instilled in her children and grandchildren.”

Those values, Mr. Thomspon said, were basic values, like honesty and compassion for people, that were handed down to her by her own parents and grandparents.

“And she was a stickler on manners,” he said, chuckling. When asked if he’d ever been on the receiving end of reprimand, Thompson replied, “A few times. Just the usual habits.”


Gail “JoAnne” Thompson is survived by her husband, Ralph G. Thompson; her children, Russell Thomspon; Reed Thompson and his wife, Tina; Matthew Thompson and April Appleby; Jill Jones; and Jaimee Motschmann and her husband, Brandon. She is also survived by her grandchildren, Courtney Thompson Vinehout and her husband, Devin Vinehout; Jade Thompson; Alexis Thompson; Hunter Thompson; Saige Thompson; Madison Jones; and Coy and Chloe Motschmann. 

Calling hours will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 24, at New Comer Cremations & Funerals, at 343 New Karner Road, in Albany. A funeral will be held at the funeral home the next day at 11 a.m. The burial will be private.

Memorial messages may be left at

Memorial contributions may be sent to The Equinox Inc., care of Development and Community Relations, for their Thanksgiving fund. 

— Noah Zweifel


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