William C. Thompson, a Caribbean American former New York State Supreme Court justice and trailblazing first Black New York State senator from Brooklyn, died on Christmas Eve. He was 94.
Thompson, whose parents migrated to New York from St. Kitts, was the father of former New York City Comptroller William “Bill” Thompson, Jr., 65, who had made an unsuccessful bid for mayor of the city.
Though the elder Thompson was born in Harlem, the Thompsons lived most of their lives in the Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
“As a judge and the first African American state senator from Brooklyn, William C. Thompson, Sr. stood up against racism and injustice in our city for decades,” tweeted incumbent New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Christmas Eve.
“We send our deepest condolences to his son Bill, his daughter Gail, and all his family and loved ones,” he added.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also tweeted: “William Thompson, Sr. spent a lifetime of service to New York.
“He was a trailblazer, and our thoughts are with his family,” Cuomo said.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said he joined “all Brooklynites” in mourning the passing of Thompson, “a man who I have been honored to call a friend and confidant for so many years.
As “a proud graduate” of Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and Brooklyn Law School, Adams said Thompson served America “with distinction” in World War II as a member of the Army’s “Buffalo Soldiers.”
“Justice Thompson broke barriers as our borough’s first Black state senator, and continued to break barriers as he ascended the ranks of our judicial system,” Adams said.
Across five decades, he said Justice Thompson was “the embodiment of the principles we expect out of public service, values he imparted to his children, Bill and Gail.”
“His legacy of public good includes meaningful work to advance quality child care, combat breast cancer, mentor young law students, as well as bring together our African-American and Jewish communities,” Adams said.
“Our One Brooklyn family will collectively carry Justice Thompson’s torch in the struggle for justice going forward,” he added.
William Colridge Thompson, was born on Oct. 26, 1924.
According to his biography, Thompson graduated from Brooklyn College, and, in 1954, from Brooklyn Law School.
He was a member of the New York State Senate from 1965 to 1968, sitting in the 175th, 176th and 177th New York State Legislatures as a Democrat.
His biography also states that Thompson was a member of the New York City Council from 1969 to 1973.
It said that, in November 1973, he was elected to the New York Supreme Court; and, a year later, was “designated” as an Associate Justice of the Appellate Term, 2nd and 11th Districts.
In December 1980, Thompson was again “designated” an Associate Justice of the Appellate Division, Second Department, the biography states.
Brooklyn Law School said Thompson retired from the bench at the end of 2000, “when he reached the constitutional age limit, and then became of counsel to the law firm of Roger Victor Archibald, PLLC.”
Thompson’s wife, Elaine Thompson, a public school teacher in Brooklyn, died in 2010.