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Andy Thompson, Rest in Peace

CEI lost a good friend and former colleague last week. Andrew M. Thompson, our very first fundraising director, died suddenly last Wednesday at his home in Marietta, Ohio. He was 57.

CEI was in a cramped set of offices above Sherrill’s Restaurant on Capitol Hill when Andy first joined us in the late 1980s. He was, in the words of CEI founder Fred Smith’s wife, Fran, “a fresh-faced Midwestern kid”—enthusiastic, warm, and with a talent for good jokes and terrible puns. He was also an expert birdwatcher; his parents had started Bird Watcher’s Digest a decade earlier as a family business in their Marietta home. At CEI he expanded CEI’s fundraising efforts and helped out in the Herculean task of organizing Fred.

Andy and his wife Jade returned to Marietta after several years, where Andy later was elected to the city council and then served four terms in the Ohio House of Representatives. Much of his work there focused on deregulation. In 2019, after leaving the state legislature, Andy renewed his CEI ties and once again fundraised for us.

It was at that point that CEI’s Marlo Lewis first ran into Andy: “Even though we had never met before, he greeted me like an old friend. Within minutes I was thinking that we must have been great pals from way back and I wondered how I could ever have forgotten him. That’s how caring and sunny a soul Andy was.” ​

R.J. Smith, who developed CEI’s private conservation programs, said, “Andy’s interest in Free Market Environmentalism was as extensive as his knowledge of birds, which meant that the conversations the two of us had were pretty unique, especially in D.C.”

Tom Miller, one of CEI’s very first analysts and now a health policy expert at the American Enterprise Institute, remembers: “Andy’s curiosity, friendliness, and loquaciousness were a legendary combination during his years at CEI. Several of the veteran staff there still can recall his habit of poking his head into your otherwise empty and quiet office and asking, ‘What was it you just were thinking about?’”

Myron Ebell, head of our energy and environment team, sums Andy up this way: “He was a great colleague, loyal friend, and man of rare integrity. I especially enjoyed working with him on the American Legislative Exchange Council’s energy, environment, and agriculture task force when he was a member of the Ohio legislature. He understood the issues and pushed aggressively for free market positions even when some of the corporate reps on the task force from his own state were opposed. The day we learned of Andy’s death, I emailed a mutual friend of ours in Columbus and commented that as far as I knew, Andy was one of those rare people who retained all his integrity after getting elected to office. He replied, ‘The longer I spend around the State House, the more glaring it is every day how hard it is to retain one's integrity, but you are right, he was one of the few who did so.’’

Andy is survived by Jade Thompson, his wife of 35 years, and three grown children. We will miss him dearly.