- On April 1, 2018
- 3 Comments
If anyone took heed of Lord Tennyson’s musings about a life well lived, of “how dull it is to
pause,” and that we should “drink life to the lees…to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield,” it
would have been Margaret Leitch Thompson of Washington, who passed away on March 27,
2018, at the age of 91 in Shadyside Hospital, Pittsburgh, PA.
An admired, loved, respected, and dedicated member of the community of Washington for
decades, Margaret “Maggie” Leitch Thompson was born on October 30, 1926, in London,
Ontario, Canada to Herbert and Rita Leitch.
She possessed a keen interest in theater and as a young woman moved from Ontario to New
York City where she attended acting school and performed in a number of plays, including Off-
Broadway. Her devotion to theater continued after she moved to Western Pennsylvania in the
1950’s. For several decades she appeared in performances on numerous stages in
In 1968, Margaret married Robert David Thompson, also of Washington, ultimately leading to
the Herculean task of raising eight children. Her love of people, learning, and service to the
community was not contained to the home, however. She became a U.S. citizen and graduated
with a degree in Sociology from Washington and Jefferson College in 1979. Although in her
fifties, she became a popular student on campus by mentoring and befriending many of her
Margaret also became a valued member of the Washington County Historical Society, wherein
she served for 20 years, both as a board member and promoter of the Society’s mission to keep
Washington County history alive, vibrant, and relevant. She was instrumental, from its inception,
in the planning of “Art in the Garden,” the Historical Society’s signature fundraiser, at the
Lemoyne House. Her desire to have a well-funded historical society was outdone only by her
desire to bring exposure to local artists.
A believer in helping young women, Margaret served as an assistant leader of the local Girl
Scouts and served in multiple capacities at the Washington YWCA. She also was the director of
the Y-Teens program, which promoted leadership skills for girls.
In her later years Margaret continued to have a positive impact on the community of
Washington. In 2003, in furtherance of her late husband’s dedication to adult literacy, she
commissioned artist Brody Parker Burroughs to paint “Learning Never Ends,” which resides at
the entrance of the children’s floor of Citizens Library. In 2015, she was the moving force behind
the rededication of the DeLloyd “Dutch” Thompson Airfield at Washington County Airport.
Always an impeccable dresser and lover of people, Margaret befriended strangers, whom she
considered friends not yet discovered, with her magnetic personality. More than a few have
referred to her as their “surrogate mother.” She seemed to know everyone in Washington, was
universally liked, and was a fierce friend to those who knew her well. She enjoyed reading,
gardening, live music, the Steelers, Pirates, and Penguins. She likely was the only person to
have witnessed Don Larsen’s perfect game for the Yankees in the 1956 World Series, was in
attendance for the Immaculate Reception, and was the fellow rider in an elevator with a young
Elvis Presley at the Ritz Carlton in Paris.
Margaret leaves behind her children Laurie Freeze Johnson (Jeffrey), Jane Ann Thompson,
Katharine Kenward Thompson, Jonathon Douglas Freeze, Margaret Gordon Thompson-Schulz
(Eric Schulz), David Molinaro-Thompson (Jacqueline), and Daniel James Thompson (Jennifer
Barill); she leaves behind her grandchildren Gillian Helwig, Megan Berkstresser, Jessica
Freeze, Neil Freeze, Robert Helwig, William Johnson, and Ian Molinaro-Thompson.
Margaret was preceded in death by her husband Robert David Thompson in 2002, daughter
Deborah Tyler Freeze in 2017, and sister Barbara Leitch Wilson.
Please join the family in celebrating Margaret L. Thompson’s life:
Those individuals who wish to honor Margaret may make donations to the Washington County
Historical Society by sending a check to WCHS at 49 East Maiden Street, Washington, PA,
15301 or going online to www.wchspa.org.