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Monday, May 2, 2016

Russell Compton, champion of peace, dies at 98

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Russell Compton
Russell J. Compton, professor emeritus of philosophy at DePauw University, died Saturday night in Greencastle. He was 98 years old.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. Saturday at Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church, Greencastle, with Rev. P.T. Wilson officiating. Interment will follow at Forest Hill Cemetery.

Visitation is 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at Bittles and Hurt Funeral Home, Greencastle.

Memorials may be made to the Compton Center for Peace and Justice at DePauw University. Condolences may be e-mailed to the family in care of inbth@keystonegroup.com.

Compton taught at DePauw from 1951 until 1974, but remained active in the life of the University. Beginning in 1980, he volunteered as an associate chaplain. On Feb. 23, 2000, DePauw honored the longtime educator and activist by dedicating the Russell J. Compton Center for Peace and Justice. The Compton Center, which has influenced countless individuals since its inception, is designed to raise consciousness among members of the University community concerning of campus, local, national and global social justice. The Center also provides opportunities for academic reflection on these issues and to empower people to work for social change.

At the dedication ceremony for the Compton Center, which took place in Meharry Hall of East College, DePauw President Robert G. Bottoms praised Professor Compton as "a voice of compassion and a voice of encouragement for many people in many generations."

Alumni perhaps remember Compton best as a professor who taught the "Basic Beliefs" course, which was offered at DePauw from 1958 until 1977 and energetically engaged a generation of students, encouraging them to shape their own values and beliefs. An ordained United Methodist minister, Compton consistently supported students who worked for racial equality, and he stood in solidarity with students protesting the Vietnam War. He accompanied DePauw students to three marches on Washington, D.C., including the one at which Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech in 1963.

Before joining the DePauw faculty in September 1951, Compton taught at Wesley College, Hendrix College and Hamline University. He received his B.A. from Manchester College in 1931, his B.D. from Garrett Biblical Institute (1935) and earned a Ph.D. from Yale University (1939). He was the recipient of Manchester's Alumni Honor Award and served as president of the Midwest section of the National Association of Biblical Instructors.

Earlier this year, Compton was featured in Sprouts, a program distributed by the Pacifica Radio Network.

"There's nothing more important than to learn to dialogue," Compton said in the show, which was produced by Kevin Howley, associate professor of communication at DePauw. "I don't think people really live a human life if they don't talk in-depth with other human beings."

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