From their earliest days on campus, they were drawn to the stunning personality of Angela Thompson (class of 1999), the small-town girl from North Jackson County, Alabama, with the dancing brown eyes and the 200-watt smile.
She was the kind of friend who would wait outside a classroom to see how your latest test went. She was the lively ball of energy who showed her Lockheart pledge sisters the latest “killer” dance moves. “She was the fun one,” recalled her close friend Hillary May Brodofsky. “She was always smiling and so happy and had a big personality. She had a joyous energy that everyone loved.”
And Angela didn’t just share her generous spirit with those in her social clubs. “She was everyone’s person,” said her friend Katherine Campbell Seyb. “She was seen and heard everywhere she went. She was bright and confident and welcoming and enthusiastic and so much fun. I often joked she should have worked for QVC because she could talk for hours about anything.”
An English major and a talented writer, Angela joined The Spectator staff. She could write a light-hearted piece about the joys of lipstick, but one of her final columns as a senior seemed to capture her maturing spirit.
In looking back over her years at The W, among many funny memories, she observed, “We learned about relationships and how we wanted to behave in them and continue to learn how we will fill new relationship roles.”
A chance encounter with a pilot-in-training at Columbus Air Force Base her junior year would help Angela define those new relationship roles.
“My college friend had met Angela and several of her friends at church, and he invited them, his roommate, and me to lunch at Peppers,” recalled Brian Witkowsky, who would become Angela’s husband and partner in life.
“Angela used to tell the story that she saw me the first time from the balcony sitting area while I was in line ordering my meal, liked what she saw (at least that is how I remember her telling the story) and made a calculated move to cut in front of me in line to get a straw or something.”
That was the beginning of a blossoming friendship and love, as the two discovered they had many similarities in upbringing, outlook on life, and goals.
When they attended a wedding in Florida for an Air Force friend, Brian said, “I couldn’t take my eyes off her. One of our favorite photos came from that night, and I look at it every day cherishing the love that would become us.” The newly wedded couple became some of the Witkowsky’s closest friends over the next two decades.
During the time he and Angela dated, Brian said he was impressed by how similar their experiences were—his in college and the U.S. Air Force Academy and hers as a W undergraduate. “The balance of demands on her peers and mine were similar. Angela carried a challenging academic schedule, was a campus leader and was a member of both four-year and two-year social clubs, the Lockhearts and the Maskers.
The stories she was able to share about recruiting and initiation were amazingly similar to my experiences at the Air Force Academy.”
What Brian saw was an environment in which the young women could recognize their full potential.
“Angela and her friends amazed me then and continue to amaze me today with their achievements and what they have given back to society. From Congresswomen, lawyers, college professors, overachieving professionals, community leaders and volunteers, The W prepared these graduates for success and instilled so many lifelong lessons.
“Angela was empowered by her time at The W, and those experiences shaped her into the woman she became after graduation” he added. “She exuded confidence, inspiration and strength after she left The W. She was a civic leader, community organizer and a consummate professional. She was a proud W graduate!”
Angela Cain DeBoer, who like her friend also became an Air Force spouse, dates her friendship with Angela Thompson to their 1995 pledging as Lockhearts. “Little did we know that we would literally ‘lock hearts’ in life. Our whole pledge class really was and we still are close. Angela was a friend to everyone. She wanted to connect in some way, shape or form with whomever she met.”
Both Angelas would join the ranks of “Air Force spouses.” “We had plans of one day returning to Columbus together, but the Air Force didn’t seem to have the same idea. Her life as a military spouse didn’t go unnoticed. She continued to give of her time and talents. One of her many Air Force accolades was becoming Ellsworth’s Spouse of the Year.” DeBoer said.
When husband Brian became a FedEx pilot, Angela’s philanthropic efforts continued, DeBoer added. “Angela jumped right in with commitments to the spouses’ group and fundraising efforts.” For Angela’s friends, perhaps her greatest accolade is the commitment she made to lifelong friendship.
“She came from states away after my miscarriage, sent encouraging notes after a layoff, and was at my father’s funeral,” Seyb said. “I can guarantee she did not think twice about doing any of that. Angela also was a very special person to my own family. She was close with my parents and siblings; even my grandmother loved her so much.”
For husband Brian, Angela was a spirit beyond description. “Angela blessed this world as a loving and faithful wife, proud and caring mother, revered sister and the beloved member of her entire family. She was loved and faithfully loyal to so many who were fortunate to call her a sister and a friend.”
On Dec. 31, 2020, life for all who loved Angela would change forever. At the young age of 43, she suffered a traumatic stroke from which she never recovered. She died Jan. 4, 2021, and in accordance with her living will, became an organ donor, offering a gift of life as her final selfless act. In addition to her husband Brian, she is survived by her daughters Alina and Ava.
In honor of their friend’ s loving spirit, both as a student and a tireless worker for others, her close friends have endowed a scholarship in her name at The W. The group has contributed more than $17,000 to date.
“I am so excited that this scholarship has been established in Angela’s honor and hope those fortunate to receive it in her name are able to achieve as much as Angela did during her life,” Brian said.
“Angela’s fund is one tiny way we can honor her legacy of joy and friendship,” said Brodofsky, who jump started the fund. And, added her friend DeBoer,
“The mark that she made on this world was a beautiful one. Having a scholarship in Angela’s honor is quite fitting. She had such a giving spirit, and I know she would be humbled to know someone would benefit from it.”