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In memoriam: Purpel ’82, Thompson ’59

Elaine Ladd Purpel, MSW ’82, died peacefully on Nov. 26. A memorial service was held Nov. 29, at New Garden Friends Meeting House in Greensboro.

Purpel was a passionate advocate for the mentally ill, their families, and their caregivers. Among many other professional accomplishments, she was a founder and president of NAMI-NC. She was one of the early teachers in the Family-to-Family program, a program she deeply believed in. Equally important were her many unofficial services to the families of those coping with devastating mental illnesses.

A native of Worcester, Vt., Purpel attended Middlebury College and later received a Masters in Social Work from UNC-Chapel Hill. Her warmth and open personality touched many in her professional and personal life.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to NAMI-NC, 309 W. Millbrook Rd., Ste. 121, Raleigh, NC 27609 (or

Fred B. Thompson, MSW ’59, formerly of Raleigh, died Nov. 14, in Brevard, N.C. at age 82. He was born in Rocky Mount.

Thompson received a Bachelor of Education and a Master of Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was an Army veteran and served in Korea. He worked as a social worker in mental health centers and psychiatric hospitals as well as Project Enlightenment. He also worked in daycare licensing for the State of North Carolina. Thompson was an active member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh for more than 30 years.

A gathering of friends and family was held on Dec. 3. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to Southern Poverty Law Center, UNC School of Social Work and/or WUNC Public Television.