"She was approached by her former students, many who are now in their 50s and 60s, with hugs and big smiles, and she remembered each and every one of them with anecdotes about them," said Susan Thompson, her daughter-in-law, who lives in Ruxton.
In addition to her teaching at the school, she was a communicant for many years of St. Mary of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church and was active in the St. Mary's Mother's Club.
In 1974, her son, Thomas F. Thompson, established the Coffee Mill on Chestnut Avenue in Hampden, and later opened shops in Ellicott City, Brown's Arcade on Charles Street and Belvedere Square.
Mrs. Thompson worked for many years during the 1970s and 1980s at both the Hampden and Belvedere Square stores, where she waited on customers and blended coffees using arabica beans from Ethiopia and robusta, which is grown in Africa and Brazil.
"One blend was Allegro Con Brio, but I don't know what went into it because I'm a tea drinker," her daughter, Barbara T. Schmidt of New Freedom, Pa., said with a laugh.
"She wouldn't tell what went into it, but I think it had three beans one of which was the arabica and Colombian beans," her daughter-in-law said. "I know that it was served at a number of Baltimore's top restaurants."
Her son died in 2003.
When she was a teacher, Mrs. Thompson, an accomplished pianist, enjoyed playing for her students at St. Mary's and at church events.
After the births of her grandchildren and great-grandchildren in the maternity wing at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Mrs. Thompson would give an impromptu concert celebrating their arrival on the department's piano.
As a member of the Cockeysville Senior Center, Mrs. Thompson, who had moved to Mays Chapel, played piano there several days a week to entertain members and staff.
Mrs. Thompson also liked dropping into music and piano stores, where would sit down and start tickling the ivories with store owners and customers.
One of her regular stops was the Menchey Music Service Inc. in Timonium, where she enjoyed playing spontaneous duets with Tom Mathis, manager of the piano department.
"She'd come in unannounced and would start playing the piano. She loved to come in for holidays. If it were St. Patrick's Day, she'd come in wearing a green sweater and would play St. Patrick's Day songs. If it were Christmas, then she'd play carols," said Mr. Mathis.
"She played all of the old favorites and they just came out of her head. She knew a million tunes and had such an incredible memory for them," he said. "She could hear a tune in her ear and then improvise. She was a natural talent."
Customers would gather around and enjoy her playing, said Mr. Mathis.
"People would ask, 'Can you play this?' and she'd flip it right off," he said. "Music was such a big part of her life. She had a sharp mind until the end of her life. She was still playing, and the last time we played together was two months ago."
"On warm summer afternoons, in the days before air conditioning was widespread, all the windows of our Govans home were open and people could hear her playing," said her son, Gerald C. Thompson of Ruxton. "They'd come up and ask, 'Miss Mary, can we come in and listen?' She was a people person from day one and her true calling was being a pied piper with her piano."
Mrs. Thompson was a big fan of the British comedies that aired on public television and "Downton Abbey," her son said.
"Every afternoon, she'd chart out some time so she could watch those shows. She loved the characters," he said.
Mrs. Thompson was also an accomplished poker player.
The Morning Sun Newsletter
Get your morning news in your e-mail inbox. Get all the top news and sports from the baltimoresun.com.