To Members of the Bowdoin Community,
I am writing to inform you that Professor of Romance Languages Emeritus Clifford Thompson passed away on Thursday, March 4, in Portland, Maine. Cliff taught at Bowdoin for 34 years, from 1961 until his retirement in 1995.
Clifford R. Thompson, Jr. was born in Portland on July 25, 1933, the son of Clifford R. and Helen Bancroft Thompson. He graduated from Westbrook High School in 1951 and earned his undergraduate degree at Harvard in 1955. Following his graduation, he served for two years with the Adjutant General Corps at 8th Army Headquarters in Japan as a Specialist 3rd Class. He returned to Harvard where he earned a master’s degree in 1958 and served as a graduate teaching fellow from 1958 to 1961. In the summer of 1959, he studied at the Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo in Spain. He went on to earn his Ph.D. at Harvard in 1965 and became a recognized authority on 19th-century Spanish literature and prose, especially on the works of Leopoldo Alas—the novelist and literary critic whose writings helped to establish the modern short story tradition in Spain.
Cliff came to Bowdoin in 1961 as an instructor in Spanish. He was promoted to assistant professor in 1965, associate professor in 1971, and professor in 1977. He served two terms as chair of the Romance Languages Department, from 1977 to 1983. At the time of his retirement in 1995, he was elected an honorary member of the Bowdoin Alumni Association.
A very private person, Cliff requested that there be no memorial service at the College. Burial was at Woodlawn Cemetery in Westbrook, following a graveside committal service.
I know you join me in offering heartfelt condolences to Cliff’s family, as well as deep gratitude for his years of service to Bowdoin.