Last mission to repair the Hubble telescope Hubble space telescope discoveries have enriched our understanding of the cosmos. In this special report, you will see facts about the Hubble space telescope, discoveries it has made and what the last mission's goals are.
For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
Fill out this form to email this article to a friend
Professor transcended dyslexia for a life of the mind
By STEPHANIE HAYES, Times Staff Writer
Published November 3, 2007
PORT RICHEY - He was the kid with the butterfly net. The one who could repair the class projector.
As a teen, Ronald Thompson worked at a veterinarian's office. He was washing a cocker spaniel when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. He once built a cat skeleton in his mother's kitchen.
He had trouble reading. He couldn't spell or skip or square dance. At one point, he thought he had a brain tumor. Instead of writing things down, he kept information in his head
* * *
He was the student with the dry sense of humor. You'd miss his jokes if you weren't listening.
He joined the Navy and later earned a master's degree and a PhD. In college, he worked as a teacher's assistant, and a group of squeamish female students drove him crazy - they never wanted to touch the dead animals.
But one caught his eye. Lillian, a biology major, wrote everything down in notebooks, something he could never do.
They complemented each other, even decades later.
* * *
He was the dad with the cool job.
He researched human temperature regulation at the National Institutes of Health. He worked on NASA space suits and studied cystic fibrosis and obesity.
At home, there was usually a microscope on the dinner table. Instead of "cow" or "horse," he taught his kids, Karl and Karen, to say "bovine" or "equine."
Like his dad, Karl had trouble reading. In first grade, an expert diagnosed Karl as dyslexic.
"You may be explaining my son," Dr. Thompson said, "but you just explained me."
* * *
He was the professor who cared less about grades, more about learning.
The Thompsons moved to Port Richey in 1986, and Dr. Thompson started teaching at Pasco-Hernando Community College.
He enjoyed helping dyslexic students and had a laid-back lecture style, sprinkled with jokes. He tried to keep students engaged. He wanted them to want to learn.
The whole family passionately supported stem cell research. On Wednesday, they were elated to read that scientists have made a breakthrough in the Parkinson's field.