Paul Thompson. Photo by Paul Neevel.

Paul Thompson

“I’ve been involved in amateur radio since age 13,” says Paul Thompson, who grew up in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, then earned BS and MS degrees in electrical engineering from MIT. He was also in ROTC, and after graduation served three years of active duty as a second lieutenant in Ethiopia. “I brought my amateur radio,” he continues. “I had a friend in the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa, and when President Kennedy was assassinated, Emperor Haile Selassie wanted to go to the funeral. I was able to transmit that message to the correct people in Washington. Selassie was there in the front row, marching down Pennsylvania Avenue.” Thompson also met people in Ethiopia who were installing electronic equipment. He befriended them, and ended up working for their company, Harris Corporation, for 30 years. He retired from Harris in 1990 to open his own wireless communication consulting business, Paul Thompson Associates. “I was able to help startup companies in the wireless field,” he explains, “companies like Bell Laboratories and Earthlink. I retired from that about five years ago.” He and his wife moved from the Bay Area of California to Eugene in 2003. Shortly after his arrival, Thompson became a member of the City Club of Eugene. “The City Club was a good platform to learn about Eugene,” he notes. “I’ve been on the board and on the development committee, concerned with fundraising. We set a course that relies more on corporate sponsorship, less on membership dues.” When COVID struck, Thompson amassed the equipment needed to conduct the club’s weekly Friday noon meetings simultaneously in-person and online via Zoom. Recorded meetings are broadcast on KLCC radio at 7 pm the following Monday. “Now it’s time for me to step back,” he says. “The City Club could use a new volunteer. I have two citizen-scientist pursuits, astronomical in nature. One of them is searching for extraterrestrial intelligence under a program from UCLA. The other is a NASA program searching for the ninth planet. My participation is evaluating data and developing a tutorial for others to do the same. I’ve always been involved in cosmology and astronomy. Here’s a chance for me to get my hands dirty!”