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William Lay Thompson

William Lay Thompson

The basics
Quick Facts
Occupations Ecologist
Gender male
Birth February 16, 1930 (Austin)
Death November 27, 2016 (Livonia)
Education University of Texas at Austin, University of California, Berkeley
The details

William Lay Thompson was an American ornithologist, naturalist and educator. He was Professor Emeritus of Biological Sciences at Wayne State University, an expert on bird vocalizations, past President of the Michigan Audubon Society, and past Editor of the Jack Pine Warbler.

Early life and education

William Lay Thompson was born on February 16, 1930 in Austin, Texas. He was the son of Dora (Lay) Thompson of Lockhart, Texas and William Henry Thompson of Brownwood, Texas. He attended the Austin public schools. After graduating from Austin High School he went to the University of Texas in Austin where he received his bachelor's degree with a major in zoology and a minor in botany. He continued at the University of Texas in Austin for a master's degree in zoology. This was followed by a Doctorate in zoology at the University of California in Berkeley.


From 1955 to 1957, Thompson served in the United States Army Chemical Corps, stationed in Washington D.C..

In 1959, Thompson was engaged to teach at Wayne State University, in Detroit, Michigan, in the Department of Biology. He taught in the University's Adult Education Program and at the Detroit Zoo. He was elected as a Member of AOU (The American Ornithologists' Union) and AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) in which he was elected a Fellow. He retired from Wayne State in 1993 as Professor Emeritus.

Thompson established Museum of Natural History in Biology Department at Wayne State University circa 1972-1976 was used by area schools in "Tandem Teaching" program.

Thompson was a member of the Detroit Audubon Society, in which he served a term as vice president and also the Michigan Audubon Society, in which he served as president for several years.

Personal life

In 1958 Thompson married Retta Catherine Maninger in Berkeley, California. They had three children.


Thompson died on November 27, 2016 in Livonia, Michigan.


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