Ted and Adrienne Thompson Scholarship

Ted was born on the 18th January 1925 and attended Granville Superior Public School. His academic brilliance was such that he was fast-tracked to Parramatta High School, the first co-educational high school in NSW. He was at Sydney University as a 15 year old and had been awarded his Bachelor of Science at 18. It was while doing Honours in chemistry that he met fellow student Adrienne White. They had much in common and enjoyed bushwalking and caving together, as well as attending dances. Ted would cycle from Granville to Adrienne’s home in Epping during their courting days.

They became engaged while bushwalking near Mittagong and were married in 1947. By the time they were married Ted was high school teaching and Adrienne was working as a scientist in industry. The toughest part of teacher training for Ted was being forced to write with his right hand. Such was the wisdom of the day, it was deemed impossible for a leftie to write effectively on the blackboard. Ted received the opportunity to go to Cambridge to complete a PhD; at that time there were no PhD programs in Australia. Adrienne supported Ted while he spent 3 years in Cambridge completing his PhD. In fact she typed his thesis for him, including all four carbon copies. He was supervised by Fred Sanger, a rarity in being awarded a Nobel prize twice, who remained a lifelong friend. In the Cambridge years Ted and Adrienne enjoyed the opportunity to ski in Europe. They then went on to the United States where Ted did a post-doc in the laboratory of Emil Smith.

They returned to live in Melbourne where Ted worked for 12 years in the Wool Research section of the CSIRO and was awarded the David Rivett Medal for excellence in research. During these years their three children were born and
Ted and Adrienne were very active in their local community, helping to establish the first kindergarten and other services needed to support young families. As the children grew older, Adrienne became a science teacher at a local high school. The family moved to Sydney in 1966 so that Ted could take up the appointment of Professor of Biochemistry at the University of NSW. He had a distinguished teaching and research career at the university. Ted was deeply respected by his students, staff and colleagues. He was kind and nurturing, an excellent communicator and good mentor. Adrienne’s employment at UNSW in the Department of Pathology morphed into her undertaking and completing a PhD in her early 50s and she continued as a research scientist until she became very involved in the university, initially through her active involvement as Secretary of Alumni Associates and then as a Member of Council.

Ted retired in 1990 when he became an Emeritus Professor and a Mace Bearer. Adrienne continued her work with Alumni Associates and always accompanied Ted to UNSW events. Adrienne’s involvement with this led to Ted becoming a Board Member and later Chair of the Board at International House with which he maintained a long association given the friendship he developed with Bob and Sue Lundy.

Post-retirement, Ted and Adrienne continued to enjoy the outdoors, camping, bushwalking and canoeing Sydney Harbour. They regularly attended the opera and the ballet and enjoyed the opportunity to meet their family both in
Sydney and supporting their children and grandchildren both locally and as their careers led to relocation to other parts of Australia. They were devoted, loving and supportive to their children in their busy lives and careers and to their grandchildren, encouraging them to follow their heart.

Ted and Adrienne were passionate about life, family, the natural environment, and the value of science, learning and critical thinking. They were avid readers, caring and compassionate and enjoyed the company of friends and family and enjoyed a wonderful sense of humour. They were a complementary couple, deeply committed to each other and are fondly remembered by those who had the pleasure of knowing them.