October 14, 2015

Yellow Dog Studio Memorial Scholarship

thompson-scholarshipThe Yellow Dog Studios Memorial Scholarship was established in memory of Mari Zimmerman-Thompson and Christopher Thompson. Mari and Chris became husband and wife in May of 2002. They lived their remaining years together as kindred spirits until July 2, 2015 when a tragic automobile accident took them from their family and friends.

Mari was born and raised in Saginaw, Mich. After receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Art Education and Master’s Degree in Art History from Michigan State University, she returned to Saginaw with her first husband to raise their family. Mari taught art at Swan Valley High School, but left to spend more time with her family. In the 1980s, she worked in the Saginaw area as a real estate agent and began her own interior design business. Her heart, however, remained with the arts. After Chris and Mari were married, he convinced Mari to retire from real estate and focus on what she enjoyed doing – her artwork. She won several awards for her watercolor, mixed media, and other pieces of art. Mari was a member of the Saginaw Artist Guild, Midland Artist Guild, Saginaw Area Watermedia Artists (past president), Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and served on the Action Art Counsel at the Saginaw Art Museum.

Chris was born and raised in Tiffin, Ohio. He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Michigan State University in 1963. After serving in West Germany as First Lieutenant in the Army Medical Service Corps from 1964-1966, he moved to Saginaw with his first wife to begin his career in journalism and raise a family. Chris worked for the Saginaw News for over 40 years, holding many editorial positions, including 30 years as a contributing columnist. In 2000, he lost his first wife to breast cancer. Two years later, he decided to spend his golden years with his best friend and “Kindred Spirit”, as he referred to Mari in his columns. Though many may know Chris for his weekly columns in the Saginaw News, he had a passion for photography since his teenage years. After retiring, Chris focused on being behind the camera. His talent was evident by anyone who saw his work. He was the recipient of several prizes in arts competitions including Best Two-Dimensional Art, Best Photography, and Best of Show. He too was a member of the Midland Artist Guild and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and served on the Action Art Counsel at the Saginaw Art Museum.

Together, Mari and Chris’ artwork and photography have been displayed in the Tri-City area including Midland Center for the Arts, Midland Public Library, Oscar’s, Café Milano and Stackers in Midland; the Castle Museum of Saginaw County History, Andersen Enrichment Center, Saginaw Township Offices, and the Saginaw Art Museum in Saginaw; and the Michigan Department of Tourism’s Clare Welcome Center.

The Yellow Dog Studios Memorial Scholarship was created to honor Mari and Chris’ love for the arts and photography. This scholarship will support an outstanding, graduating high school senior from Bay, Isabella, Midland, or Saginaw County pursuing undergraduate studies in the arts, photography, or journalism.


  • Minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Graduating high school senior in the Great Lakes Bay Region
  • Pursuing an undergraduate degree in art and/or photography
  • Full-time enrollment

Evaluation Criteria

  • Special skills/interests (30)
  • Career goals (20)
  • Essay (15)
  • Letters of recommendation (15)
  • Extracurricular activities (5)
  • Awards and honors (5)
  • Overall involvement in work, school and community activities (5)
  • Academic performance (5)

Special Requirements

If selected for an interview, please be prepared to present a portfolio of your art and/or photography