Born: November 7, 1847, East Liverpool, Ohio.
Died: September 20, 1909, Presbyterian Hospital, New York City.
Buried: Riverview Cemetery, East Liverpool, Ohio.
Will was the son of Josiah Thompson, a successful businessman and state legislator for two terms, and husband of Elizabeth Johnson (married 1891).
Rebuffed in early attempts to sell his songs to commercial publishers, he started his own publishing company. He later opened a store to sell pianos, organs and sheet music.
A lyricist and composer, he ensured he would always remember words or tunes that came to him at odd times:
No matter where I am, at home or hotel, at the store or traveling, if an idea or theme comes to me that I deem worthy of a song, I jot it down in verse. In this way I never lose it.
Thompson took ill during a tour of Europe, and his family cut short its travels to return home. He died a few weeks later.