Paula J. Thompson, who performed in the Northwest Arkansas Gridiron in 1988 and 1989, died peacefully in her sleep at home on Wednesday, October 5, 2016. She was 77. Paula was born in Rogers, Arkansas, June 19, 1939 — “shortly after the Earth cooled,” as she was fond of saying — to Paul G. and Sarah Ella Thompson.
One of her best sketches in the Gridiron Show involved an all-female barbershop quartet singing about Dickson Street.
Graduating with a Master of Arts in speech and dramatic arts from the U of A in 1964, Paula became active in community theater and remained dedicated to it her entire life, as an actress, educator, director and stage/costume designer. Besides appearing in many stage productions over a remarkable 30-year span at the Arts Center of the Ozarks, she created and played the well-known and much-loved character “Time-Traveling Granny,” bringing Ozark history and folklore to life for countless elementary school tour groups and adults alike. Her love and concern for children also led her to become a child advocate in the early days of the Head Start program. After retiring, she turned her Fayetteville farm into a wildlife habitat and sanctuary, and spent her remaining years delighting in nature, as an avid bird, bee and butterfly watcher and animal lover.
Paula was survived by her sister, Marcella Thompson of Fayetteville, her beloved cats and dogs, and her son by choice, Jamey Hall.