John Means Thompson died peacefully March 6, 1917 in Ponte Vedra, Florida surrounded by his family.

Born on March 30, 1926, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, John Means “Jack” Thompson shaped his life around five major interests: love of nature and the outdoors, nurtured by his growing up in rural New York; fascination with history and world affairs, sparked by his sixth-grade paper on the Japanese invasion of China in 1936; a passion for playing and watching sports, initiated when as a boy his mother took him to NY Giants’ baseball games and he played pond hockey many a long winter day; never-satisfied curiosity about teaching and learning, ignited by several charismatic professors at Amherst College; and deep devotion to and joy in his large family, dating from his marriage in 1949 to Anne Fiske.

Jack graduated magna cum laude from Amherst College in 1947, after interrupting his education for two-years’ service as a radioman on a destroyer escort in the Pacific theater and the occupation of Japan. After one semester at Yale Law School, and remembering his interest in Russia awakened by a history course at Amherst, he enrolled in Columbia University’s Russian Institute, earning its certificate and then master’s and doctoral degrees in Russia and European history. Eager for practical experience, he entered the State Department’s Foreign Service, serving for three years as Third and Second Secretary at the American Embassy in Indonesia, where he was lucky enough to attend the Bandung Conference as an observer.

But his interest in Russia never abated, and resigning from the Foreign Service to finish his dissertation, he began a life-long career as a teacher of Russian history, first at Rutgers and Columbia Universities, than at Indiana University from 1959-1976, and as a visiting professor at the US Air Force Academy, the Air War College, state universities at Plattsburg, New York, and Fullerton, California, Dartmouth College, the University of Hawaii, and the University of Southern Maine. Twice a research scholar on exchanges with the Soviet Union, a program which he helped administer, he also visited the USSR and Russia as a member of the US-USSR Textbook Study Project, as a lecturer for tours of US veterans to World War II battle sites, and on a number of other occasions.

His publications include scholarly articles and several books: Russia, Bolshevism, and the Versailles Peace; Revolutionary Russia 1917; Russia and the Soviet Union (now in the 7th edition); and A Vision Unfulfilled. He also co-authored with Howard Mehlinger, Count Witte and the Tsarist Government in the Revolution of 1905 and with Kathleen Hedberg, Peoples and Civilizations, a world history textbook for secondary school students.

As an instructor, Jack became much interested in methods of teaching and learning and in the interface between secondary and undergraduate education. His first assignment at Indiana University was as director of a state-wide Non-Western Studies Program funded by the Ford Foundation and later he directed the Independent Learning Program and the World History Project. He also served as Associate Dean for Curriculum in the College of Arts and Sciences. After leaving Indiana University, he taught several times on Semester at Sea a round-the-world experiential learning program sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh.

From 1976-88 he served as Associate Director of the American Universities Field Staff, a consortium of universities focused on study of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Africa.

After retiring to Maine in 1988 Jack did not give up his devotion to the NY (now San Francisco) Giants but shifted some passion to the Red Sox. He served as a volunteer combating consumer fraud for AARP and as a tour guide and docent for the Maine Maritime Museum. He also chaired the Phippsburg Charter Commission in the early 1990s and was a director of the Phippsburg Land Trust and Hospice Volunteers. Most recently he has been a teacher, student, and board member in Midcoast Senior College, which he helped found.

Thompson is survived by his wife, Anne, five children, thirteen grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. A memorial party will be held in the summer at the barn at Cold Spring Farm, his residence for the past 25 years.