Mrs. Thompson’s daughters, Julia Thompson of Cape Girardeau, Nancy L’Hommedieu of Tallahassee, Fla., Trisha Kell of Miami, Fla., and Lisa Thomas of Raleigh, N.C.; her granddaughters, Audrey Stanfield and Michelle Stanfield, both of New York, N.Y.; and the Theatre and Dance Guild at Southeast made a $10,000 gift to establish the scholarship.
The talent-based, renewable scholarship will be awarded to a student majoring in theatre and dance with at least a 2.0 grade point average. Applications for the scholarship are available in the Department of Theatre and Dance. Interested students must schedule an appointment with the department for an audition or portfolio presentation.
Marjorie Helen Miller Thompson was a Cape Girardeau native having been born in her ancestral home “Longview” in 1925 to Bert and Ella Keller Miller. Longview is now on the National Register of Historic Places, having been built in 1873 by Marjorie’s great-grandfather Col. George C. Thilenius, a prominent Cape Girardeau citizen in the late 1800s. The Colonel served in the Civil War and was mayor of the city from 1868-1873. Marjorie inherited her German family’s love of cultural arts, music and performing. She was second chair violin in her school orchestra, performed in numerous school productions, sang in the church choir at Christ Evangelical Church, played piano all her life and generally loved an audience.
Marjorie enjoyed a full life and a loving family. She died in July 2011 at the age of 86. She helped inspire this love of the performing arts in her granddaughter, Audrey Anna Stanfield, a recent Southeast graduate and notable actress having many Southeast productions to her credit. During Stanfield’s years at Southeast in the Department of Theatre and Dance, Marjorie began her “second childhood,” often hosting student fund raisers at Longview and supporting the Theatre and Dance program. Many times this meant having a multitude of students at the house for dinner, snacks, acting sessions, fund-raising ideas and being “mom” to her granddaughter, Stanfield, and many of the theatre students who lived out of town.
Julia said her mother loved the students and their talent, and that their energy kept her young. She said Marjorie also appreciated the guidance and teaching that both Dr. Kenn and Rhonda Stilson (professor of theatre and dance and associate dean of the Holland School of Visual and Performing Arts and director of the River Campus respectively) showed to Stanfield in helping her develop her college career. Stanfield is now an actress in New York City.
“The Department of Theatre and Dance at Southeast Missouri State University gave Marge a fulfilling life in her later years,” Julia said. “The Stilsons thought it fitting upon her passing to create an endowed scholarship to honor Marjorie’s commitment to the performing arts so that the students she loved could continue pursuing their dreams.”
Dr. Kenn Stilson, Southeast professor of theatre and dance, said, “Marge was such an inspiration to the students, as well as the faculty. She truly loved life. Marge’s positive spirit infected everyone around her, and she loved her kidsᾰboth her actual children and her adopted ones in Theatre and Dance. We are honored to have her name permanently associated with the Department of Theatre and Dance through this scholarship.”
Stanfield says Marjorie was a mentor to many.
“To say Marjorie Thompson affected those around her would be an understatement,” she said. “Throughout my four years of education in Southeast Missouri State University’s Department of Theatre and Dance, I cannot remember one performance she missed. Always asking me about the other ‘kids,’ she was genuinely interested in the development and success of each individual that stepped on the stage or into her home.
“My ‘Memoe’ (as the other students also affectionately called her) was always welcoming, warm and most of all, an entertainer herself,” Stanfield said. “Get-togethers hosted at her home always included song, dance and theatrics, and even at the ripe and impressive age of 84, Memoe would gladly get up and perform right along with everyone. The theatre department and all those involved lengthened her vivaciousness and quality of life. She often reminded me that the students ‘kept her going’ and for that, we can all be grateful.
“The world is not the same without my grandmother,” Stanfield continued. “There is a little less spark around, a little less tenacity. But her spirit and love continue to live in the theatre department and, most definitely, in my life as an actress in New York City. She reminded me and those around her that energy and love is undying and that, even in the hardest of times and the weakest of health, one can be fascinating, excel at what they do and continue to live life to the fullest.
“Marjorie was the strongest woman I’ve ever known,” Stanfield said, “and this endowed scholarship is a proud reminder to everyone who had the pleasure of witnessing that strength and future generations alike.”