Obituary of Heather Gwynne Thompson
A native Tucsonan, Heather Gwynne Thompson, lovingly known to her family and friends as Heather, passed away at the age of 48 on October 2, 2021, from complications due to a severe and enduring eating disorder, persistent depression and anxiety, and other co-existing disorders. She was preceded in death by her grandparents Marguerite and William Hesketh, Pearle and William Thompson, and Ramona and Henry Aviles as well as her uncle, Peter Hesketh.
Heather is survived by her mother Jennifer Aviles, her stepfather Enrique Aviles, her father Rodger Thompson, her brother Michael Thompson, her aunt Sharon Lyons, her stepsister Cristina Prior and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends.
She was born in Tucson, Arizona on March 21, 1973, to Jennifer Hesketh Aviles and Rodger Thompson.
During her early life, Heather made significant contributions to her community and society. As a counselor at Triangle Y Ranch Camp, she played an instrumental role in guiding and nurturing young minds. Moreover, while a university student, Heather's tenure as a Visit Supervisor for Aviva on behalf of Child Protective Services showcased her unwavering commitment to the welfare of children and families, leaving a lasting impact on those lives she touched. Later she often reached out a helping hand to those she encountered during her hospital stays or in her daily life.
In her pursuit of knowledge, Heather excelled academically. She was graduated from University High School (1991) in Tucson and furthered her education first at the University of California Santa Cruz and later at the University of Arizona (2002) where she majored in Psychology with a minor in Architectural Theory. Additionally, she had a strong inclination towards mathematics and business. Heather's insatiable thirst for learning led her to a diverse range of interests and hobbies. She found solace and joy in music, art, gardening, landscape design, crafts, reading and Asian art and literature. Her shelves were laden with note-filled books – novels, non-fiction, poetry and design/architecture. Her favorite book by far was The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, in French.
Following graduation Heather completed basic combat training for the United States Army at the rank of specialist before receiving a general discharge due to illness and returning to Tucson.
For years afterwards she bravely pursued recovery by entering eight different residential treatment centers for extended periods of time, some more than once. Hospitalizations for stabilization and emergency care were frequent over the years, yet she never gave up. Only towards the end of her life when severe malnutrition led to insurmountable complications did she lose the will to live.
We make decisions about our life that mold who we are. Heather did not follow a conventional course. Her journey during her thirties and forties was a difficult and lonely one. Emotional, sensory, or neurological challenges are not chosen lives. Those on an easier path often assume they understand these challenges and experiences well enough to recommend rigidity, punishment, or a sense of shame. In fact, we just need to offer a far better journey: empathy, creativity, opportunity, responsibility, and dignity. No fight, especially inner ones, should ever be lonely.
Heather possessed a set of personal traits that made her truly special. She was a unique individual, vibrant and unconventional, constantly bursting with creativity, talent, and intelligence. Heather relished pushing boundaries and was a determined person who often made up her own mind. Her stubbornness and determination were the driving forces behind her accomplishments. Heather's energy was infectious, and her sensitivity and loyalty endeared her to those around her. Loved by many, her strength, brilliance, wit, and amazing energy brightened the lives of all who had the privilege of knowing her. She was an inspiration to her family, always offering unwavering love that will be deeply missed.
To Heather, life was a canvas upon which she fearlessly painted her dreams and ambitions, leaving behind vibrant and colorful creations, often as gifts to others. May her spirit continue to inspire us all to embrace our passions and unleash our creativity, just as she did with such fervor.
Heather’s cremains were interred at All Faiths Memorial Park in a desert setting that holds special meaning to her and her family, where her loved ones gathered to pay tribute to a woman whose courage in spite of her challenges awed us all.
In remembrance of her, the family requests that any donations be made to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for people affected by mental illness.
Let us all remember Heather for the extraordinary person she was, cherishing her memory and carrying her legacy forward with love and admiration.