Susanne Thompson

April 11, 1927 - May 8, 2012

    Susanne Yardley Mason Thompson, a painter, garden designer, and collector who was a longtime resident of Amagansett, died on May 8 at Peebles Hospital in Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands. She had lived on Tortola for the last 19 years. She was 85 and had a heart attack.
    Mrs. Thompson often exhibited her work, which included portraits and large abstract landscapes, at galleries and museums on the East End, including the Benson Gallery in Bridgehampton and Guild Hall in East Hampton. She also showed at the Pellicone Gallery in Manhattan and was nominated for an award at an American Academy of Arts and Letters show in New York City in 1980.
    Her creative life, her family said, included gardening, landscape design, and architecture. She traced her artistic talent to her grandfathers — John Mason, an inventor, painter, and designer in silver for Tiffany & Company, and Edmund Willets, who founded Willets Belleek, a china company in Trenton, N.J.
    Born on April 11, 1927, in South Orange, N.J., she grew up in an oceanfront Queen Anne cottage on what was called Quaker Row in nearby Sea Girt and developed a love for the ocean that later expressed itself in her painting. A daughter of John and Margaret Willets Mason, she had a twin brother and two sisters.
    She attended Friends Seminary in New York City and the George School, a Friends school in Newtown, Pa. After graduating in 1945, she went on to study at the Art Students League in New York. Later she studied with William von Schlegell, an American Impressionist, at his studio in Mamaroneck, N.Y., and at the Ogunquit Art School in Ogunquit, Me.
    In 1947, she married Robert Thompson. The couple, who had four children, divorced after 20 years.
    Mrs. Thompson moved to a converted potato barn in Amagansett, where she lived for the next two decades with a partner, Ed Morgan, a builder and writer.
    With Mr. Morgan, she designed and built a second, Palladian-style house in Amagansett. In 1993, the two resettled on Tortola, where they designed and built two more residences, both with views of the sea. Mr. Morgan died on Tortola in 2010.
    On Tortola, Mrs. Thompson began working on smaller pieces of art, doing fabric collage, reverse paintings on glass, and, most recently, computer art. Her computer images depicted in exuberant color the views of sailboats, seascapes, and tropical gardens that, her family said, were an important part of her life.
    She applied her sense of beauty, her family said, to designing gardens and collecting antiques and objects of interest from other cultures.
    She is survived by her children, John Willets Thompson of Phoenix, Theodore Robert Thompson of Kennett Square, Pa., Margaret Pyle Thompson of East Hampton, and Amy Richards Thompson of Philadelphia. Four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren also survive.