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Welcome to the memorial page for

Gail Elaine Tompkins

March 10, 1949 ~ November 1, 2017 (age 68)


Gail Elaine Tompkins, age 68, passed away after a short illness.  She was a Rhode Island native, born in Providence in 1949 to Ruth (nee Barney) and Charles Tompkins.  Her father was an Army officer, and Gail was a lucky “Army brat.”  She lived in Germany in the early 1950s and later in Verona, Italy in the 1960s.  She is survived by her stepson Todd Osterberg, his wife Christine, and grandchildren Jordan and Gillian Osterberg of Roseville, California; by Kim Clark, her daughter by choice, and her husband Reynaldo Villalobos, and grandchildren Ava and Ivan Villalobos; and by her brother, Creigh Tompkins of Richmond, Virginia. 

After graduating from the University of Nebraska, Gail taught first grade in Virginia for 8 years, and then she earned an Ed.D in Reading/Language Arts from Virginia Tech.  Over her 25-year university teaching career, she taught at Miami University in Ohio, the University of Oklahoma, and finally at California State University, Fresno.  She received awards for teaching excellence at OU and CSUF and was inducted into the California Reading Association Hall of Fame. 

Gail will be remembered as a college textbook author.  She is the author of Language Arts: Patterns of Practice, Literacy for the 21st Century, Literacy in the Early Grades, Literacy in the Middle Grades, Teaching Writing, 50 Literacy Strategies, and Language Arts Essentials, all published by Pearson.  Each of Dr. Tompkins’ books have been the leading texts in their respective markets.  Thousands of pre-service teachers across the United States have learned to teach reading, writing and language arts from her books.

In addition, Dr. Tompkins worked with elementary- through college-level writing teachers at two National Writing Project sites during the last three decades: She directed the Oklahoma Writing Project when she taught at the University of Oklahoma, and more recently she led the San Joaquin Valley Writing Project (SJVWP) in California, where she encouraged teachers to write for publication. 

After her retirement, Gail divided her time between her home in Fresno, CA and her vacation home on Cape Cod, MA, enjoying both New England’s traditional culture and Fresno’s multicultural milieu. 

A Celebration of Gail's Life will be held Sunday, December 10, 2017 from 3:00-5:00 pm at the Terraces at San Juaquin Gardens, 5555 North Fresno Street, Fresno, CA.  

Her burial service will be held Friday, November 10, 2017 at 12:00 pm in Spring Vale Cemetery, Newman Avenue, Rumford.  

Remembrances may be made to the American Humane Society, Heifer International or your local public radio station.

Arrangements have been entrusted to J.H. WILLIAMS & CO. FUNERAL HOME, 210 Taunton Avenue, East Providence.  


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