William Brooks Thompson, 81, a former deputy director of Philadelphia’s Coordinating Office of Drug and Alcohol Abuse Programs, died June 27 of cancer at his home in Chestnut Hill.

Mr. Thompson joined the staff of CODAAP in 1973, shortly after the agency had been formed, eventually becoming deputy director. He worked tirelessly to provide help to individuals struggling with addiction in the city until retiring in 2004.

In 1964 he joined the Peace Corps as a member of the first public health group to serve in Malawi. During his three-year assignment, he worked extensively with local health care providers to diagnose and treat tuberculosis in Nkhotakhota and neighboring communities on Lake Malawi. He went on to join the Peace Corps staff, leading volunteers in Somalia as assistant director for three years.

Mr. Thompson met his future wife, Louise, while working at Peace Corps headquarters in Washington D.C., and they were married in 1970. The couple returned to Africa as Peace Corps staff, training volunteers in Swaziland and Kenya and completing a six-month road trip throughout East Africa during that time. They returned to the United States in 1973 and settled in Philadelphia.

After the birth of their son in 1977, the couple moved to Chestnut Hill where Mr. Thompson became actively involved in coaching for what was then the Chestnut Hill Father’s Club Youth Sports League. In retirement, he joined the Friends of the Wissahickon as a volunteer on the structures crew, building bridges, trails, benches, and working on dozens of projects throughout the Wissahickon Valley.

Born in Hartford, Conn, he was raised in Portland, Maine, where his father was a minister in the Congregational Church. He attended Hebron Academy in Maine and earned a bachelor’s degree. in political science from Brown University. After college, he spent three years studying political science at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he played basketball on the All-South Africa team.

Mr. Thompson and his wife traveled frequently throughout their lives, visiting friends and family in Ireland, the Czech Republic, Canada, and across the western United States. A lifelong weightlifter, he frequently coached novice weightlifting enthusiasts, and was a fixture at FitLife gym in West Mt. Airy. While in Africa, he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro twice, and hunted big game there, as well as white-tailed deer in Pennsylvania.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Andrew; a daughter, Julie; a sister, Margaret; and three grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 8, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 22 E. Chestnut Hill Ave., in Chestnut Hill. Memorial donations may be sent to the Friends of the Wissahickon, 40 W. Evergreen Ave., Suite 108, Philadelphia, PA 19118-3324. – WF

...