We gathered for the burial mass under a gray, damp sky on the morning of December 28 at the Eglise Saint Thomas d’Aquin in the 7th to remember and reflect on the life of longstanding AAPA member Pat Thompson, amid prayers, music and a sense of great loss among some one hundred fifty attending relatives, friends and colleagues.


Conducted in English by the American priest Francis Finnigan, the mass went well beyond Bible readings and prayers, accompanied by songs, cello and organ playing, and ended with moving tributes to Pat as an astoundingly happy, upbeat, warm, ever-smiling, hard-working and successful wife, friend, teacher and journalist; as most of us know, she died of a cerebral hemorrhage following over three decades as a Paris-based journalist, award-winning television producer and documentary film-maker. (Her obit was published in the IHT December 22.)


Jim Bitterman, also a longstanding AAPA member and Paris-based CNN senior correspondent, made the concluding tribute, tracing their close, fun, hard-working, highly-successful life together, noting that, reflecting on those decades in France, he was “the luckiest man here today, and the saddest.” Jim was flanked by their daughter Tess, who movingly, among others, recalled her mother’s commitment to justice and truth, reflecting, among other accomplishments, her “Irish soul.”


With the final strains of Josephine Baker’s song “J’ai Deux Amours” still in our ears, as the music faded, we headed out of the church, some to the Gilles cemetery in Normandy for Pat’s burial. Jim noted that their family house there remains a place where she “can keep an eye on our water mill and the flower beds she planted every spring…And in what one French colleague termed one of the most moving punch lines he had ever heard, Jim said in conclusion: “We are so happy to see you!”



—Axel Krause