Cap Thompson’s Celebration of Life was held at the Davis Unitarian Church on Sept 23, where hundreds of friends and family packed into the church, lobby, and even stood just outside to pay their respects. Karen Larsen (former director of Yolo County Health and Human Services/current CEO of the Steinberg Institute), Mike Meeks (past-president, CCPS), Randal Hagar (legislative advocate, Psychiatric Physicians Alliance of California/formerly of the California Psychiatric Association), and myself were invited to speak about Cap's impact from a professional's perspective.
I’ve been a psychiatrist for 25 years and it seems there hasn’t been a time since I entered the field that I haven’t known Cap. Cap’s influence has resonated throughout my career and life, from my first years as a resident on the Central California Psychiatric Society Council, to my first job working in community mental health, working and navigating being a first time (and second time) mother, to following in his footsteps as a CCPS president and being elected to president of the California Psychiatric Association (Cap was the first CPA president) and learning and becoming more involved with legislation and government affairs. He’s been a mentor, advocate, colleague, and friend to generations of psychiatrists like myself and my husband and the thousands of patients that we have all treated. Losing Cap leaves a tear in the fabric of psychiatry that will take time to fill and mend, but I trust that the lessons he taught us all will allow us to carry on his legacy of championing the best care for our patients and the highest standards for our profession. Cap was at every meeting or call, asking the important questions, tracking the legislation, or just asking how my kids were. In 2009, when public psychiatry clinics like the one I directed were in jeopardy due to the recession, Cap and Helen’s first questions upon seeing me at the annual CCPS meeting was if I was okay and if I needed any leads on a new job. I knew then that if I ever did experience an employment crisis, the Thomson’s should be my first call.
Cap’s appreciation for interprofessional collaboration was evident as we discussed nurse practitioner scope of practice issues on Government Affairs calls and he advocated for psychiatry’s support of our nurse practitioner colleagues—a sentiment that was not always popular on such calls. He attended these calls well into this past year, even as it became harder for him to do so, still adding to our thought processes and tracking the important issues. His experience as a physician in the Public Health Service gave him great perspective as a psychiatrist and we further resonated over our mutual love of medicine and the physical health of our psychiatric patients. In 2017, when I became a lead instructor in the UCDavis third year medical school course on Doctoring, I called on Cap to co-teach one of the dozen or so small groups as a mental health facilitator. Some in the medical school were concerned that the Millennial medical students wouldn’t connect with Cap because of the age difference. They needn’t have worried—Millennials can recognize quality! Let me share some of the comments that the students made about Cap: “He was a source of information and refuge during 3rd year. He is a role model for us all. He is very kind, knowledgeable, and insightful. Glad I got to learn from him.” And I’ll conclude with this quote from a student as I couldn’t say it better: “Dr. Thompson has to be one of the nicest people I have ever met, and his warmth and genuine interest in others' lives comes through in his conversation and teaching.” Good bye, Cap—thank you for all that you’ve done for all of us, we’ll pick up the mantle from here and we’ll try to make you proud.