The IBEW is saddened to announce the death of former Eleventh District International Representative Fred Compton on Nov. 17 in Joplin, Mo. He was 80.
Brother Compton was born in Joplin and served in the U.S. Navy from 1953-56. He entered Joplin Local 95's apprenticeship program at the recommendation of his father-in-law — who was a member — and was initiated in May 1957. He served as its business manager from 1972-1977.
Compton then moved to the Eleventh District office, where he was an international representative until his retirement in 1998.
"He helped me out a bunch and he helped others out so much," said Donald L. Bruemmer, business manager of Jefferson City, Mo., Local 257 since 1992. "I still use some of his tactics."
Bruemmer said one of Compton's strengths as an international representative was his ability to effectively communicate with workers from both urban and rural areas during organizing campaigns.
"He really was a people person," Bruemmer said. "He knew how to transfer that to different settings and different types of people. He was always pretty jolly."
Camie Woolever, Compton's daughter, said calling her dad a people person was an understatement.
"He never met a stranger and always had a smile on his face," she said. "If he walked up to you on the street, we had to pull him away a couple of hours later and say, 'Daddy, we've got to go.'"
Local 95 Business Manager Chris Baker has known Compton since his childhood. Baker's father, also a Local 95 member, introduced him to Compton, then serving as business manager.
That relationship continued into adulthood. Compton continued to visit the local's offices on a regular basis, even in retirement, Baker said.
"It was great to have someone you could ask, 'What would you do here?' or 'Have you ever heard of this or seen this?'" he said. "He was always good to talk to."
Compton had a well-deserved reputation for being one of the better dressed IBEW representatives in the field, Bruemmer said.
"He was very particular about the way he looked, but he wasn't overdressed for dealing with people," Bruemmer said. "He could just fit in. He knew how to fit in with people."
Compton is survived by Norine, his wife of 62 years; daughters Woolever and Pam Clark; four grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; and three great-great-grandchildren. He and Norine spent winters in Yuma, Ariz., following his retirement. Norine Compton said her husband was buried with his IBEW pin and a great-grandson now is going through Local 95's apprenticeship program.
"He really loved the union," Woolever said of her father. "Let's put it this way. We couldn't buy anything that wasn't made in America. It meant a whole lot to him."
On behalf of the entire IBEW membership and staff, the officers send our condolences to Brother Compton's family and friends.