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DePauw Mourns the Passing of Prof. Emeritus Russell J. Compton at Age 98

December 9, 2007

Russell J Compton 5.jpgDecember 9, 2007, Greencastle, Ind. - Russell J. Compton, professor emeritus of philosophy at DePauw University, passed away last night in Greencastle. He was 98 years old.

Dr. Compton taught at DePauw from 1951 until 1974, but remained very active in the life of the University. Beginning in 1980, he volunteered as an associate chaplain. On February 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 issues 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 historic East College, DePauw President Robert G. Bottoms praised Professor Compton as "a voice of compassion and a voice of Compton Center Dedication.jpgencouragement 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 VietnamWar. 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, Russell 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 -- Russell J Compton circa 1951.jpgthe highest alumni honor the college bestows -- and served as president of the Midwest section of the National Association of Biblical Instructors.

Earlier this year, Dr. Compton was featured in Sprouts, a program distributed by the Pacifica Radio Network. Audio Link [Download Audio: "Prof. Compton on Teaching" - 321kb] "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."

Visitation is tentatively set for Friday, December 14, from 5 to 8 p.m. at Bittles and Hurt Funeral Home.  Services will take place the following day at 11 a.m. at Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church.

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