By ALLISON HORE
Darlinghurst is mourning the loss of a beloved community advocate this week with the passing of Norman Thompson.
Born in Orlando Florida in 1936, Thompson grew up, studied and entered the world of academia in the United States before moving to England in the 1970s. There, he was a Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge.
In 1977, he found his way to Australia where he taught psychology in the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie until he retired in 1993.
“He saw Sydney as a stepping stone in his future academic career, but he fell in love with the place and stayed,” explained Andrew, Norman’s partner of 36 years.
After following Andrew around in his career- from Darwin, to Canberra and back to Sydney- it was in 2001 when Thompson and his partner settled down in Darlinghurst, a neighbourhood he would make a name for himself in thanks to his participation in local campaigns.
When it came to community advocacy and holding truth to power, Thompson was a force to be reckoned with. His history of academia across the globe and long list of research publications gave him knowledge and credibility, and his passion for the community gave him drive.
Mr. Thompson was described as an “irreplaceable” member of the 2011 Residents Association (2011RA), a group which advocates for the interests of residents of Kings Cross, Potts Point, Elizabeth Bay, Rushcutters Bay and Woolloomooloo in the 2011 postcode.
Throughout his time with the organisation he worked on many campaigns and brought “organisational energy, ideas and methods” through his experience working with and in the government. Using his expertise and research into the history and background of Australia’s political parties, he was able to offer the group guidance when government proposals impacted the community.
“He could also demolish those who deserved it with a succinct and withering one-liner, accompanied by that devilish and loveable smile of his, a smile as wide as Taylor Square, that could light up a dinner table as well as a crowded public meeting,” said 2011RA.
As well as being a member of 2011RA, he was an active member of the Darlinghurst Residents Action Group (DRAG). Alongside DRAG, Mr. Thompson played an instrumental role in the campaign to stop a sensitive site next to the historic St John’s Church on Darlinghurst Road being transformed into a high rise residential development.
From politics to free speech, green energy and transport infrastructure- Thompson’s research and community advocacy spanned a wide range of issues.
He spent a decade volunteering his time to work on an eye-opening research project exploring the issue of political donations and exposing the “dirty money” behind elections. The project, which began as an initiative of former Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, has proved an invaluable tool to anyone interested in following the money trail in Australian elections.
Andrew retired in 2016 and the couple enjoyed five happy years of retirement together, living in and serving the community they loved.
Mr. Thompson passed away peacefully at St Vincent’s Hospital in Darlinghurst on Monday morning, he was 85 years old.
“We have lost a dear and much-loved friend; the ongoing struggle for what is good and just has lost a fighter; and our community has lost a respected colleague and comrade,” said 2011RA.
City Hub would like to extend our sincere condolences to Thompson’s friends and family, and his husband Andrew. His funeral will be held on Monday the 29th of March at 10am at the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park in Matraville.