Remembering Steve Thompson (1945–2021)
It is with regret that I inform you of the passing of our colleague Steve Thompson. It was only recently discovered that Steve suffered from an aggressive form of lymphoma. He left us on January 15, 2021. Steve is survived by his four children, Jonathan, Lynn, Daniel, and Christopher.
Steve obtained an A.B. in Math (Berkeley 1970) and a MSc/PhD in Statistics (Oregon State 1976/1982). He was a biometrician for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game from 1979 to 1984 before becoming assistant professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Alaska (1984–1990). He served 3 years (1990–1992) in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Auckland and 13 years (1993–2005) in the Department of Statistics at Penn State prior to arriving at Simon Fraser University (SFU).
Steve came to the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science at SFU in 2005, appointed as the Shrum Chair in Science. He was a world-renowned expert in adaptive and network sampling schemes used to survey non-standard populations. He was particularly well-known for his seminal 1996 textbook Adaptive Sampling with George Seber and his 1992 text Sampling; the latter was very popular, going through three editions. Steve's work was relevant to contagious diseases, including pandemic situations where hard-to-survey populations are studied by techniques like link-tracing.
Steve had been doing excellent work up to a week prior to his death. His papers appeared in top statistics journals such as JASA, JRSSB, Biometrics, Biometrika, and Environmetrics. His work was characterized by the development of inferential procedures in applications that often affect society and the environment.
In his spare time, Steve enjoyed the outdoors. He loved to both hike and kayak. He appreciated the serenity of nature and would often go to remote locations. The walls of his office boasted glorious shots from the mountains north of Vancouver taken when he kayaked to the end of Indian Arm. Steve often shared stories about his recent adventures and was always open to discovering new places to visit.
Although his outdoor adventures were often solitary activities, Steve was a warm friend within the department. As a colleague, Steve had time for everyone. He was generous with students and he taught many of our most demanding courses. Steve willingly served on many committees, both internal and external to the university; all you needed to do was ask. He often served as our seminar coordinator where he would engage with the speaker and create a harmonious atmosphere with the audience.
Steve was unfailingly positive and kind. It is a blow to our department to lose our gentle and cheerful friend and colleague.
Professor & Chair, Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science