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'A pillar in our community”

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | May 29, 2021 1:06 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — Before Cindy Compton sang “Wind Beneath my Wings” at the celebration of life for her father, Dick Compton, she said he cast a large shadow.

“It was a safe place to be in that shadow,” she said. "He asked me to sing a song today, for my mom. It's about being in that shadow. My mom, maybe was in his shadow but she was equally as strong as he was and she was totally the balance to his life. He was able to accomplish things because of her, because of the home that she made for us, and for everything she did for my dad."

She then delivered an emotional performance that drew a standing ovation from about 200 people Friday at The Hagadone Event Center. Many past and present elected leaders were in the crowd. It was a time of tears, laughs and smiles as everyone later joined together in a rendition of “King of the Road.”

Dick Compton died May 8, at the age of 87 after a battle with cancer.

The man who worked for IBM for 32 years, served as a Kootenai County commissioner and later in the Idaho State Senate was praised as someone of integrity, dignity and grace. Despite his professional and political success, he was a man to whom family mattered most. He deeply loved his wife, Janette, and his three children.

“He told me that his most important job in life was father and husband,” said Les Atchley, one of the speakers.

Dick Compton was born in Kendrick, Idaho, to Stewart and Zora Compton. He grew up in Bayview, where his father worked to build Farragut Naval Training Station. While attending North Idaho Junior College Dick met his lifelong love, Janette Gail Mason. They were married in 1953 and the couple had three children: Richard, Debra and Cynthia. 

Stories of his passion for travel, hunting and venturing into the wildness for days and weeks at a time, his cowboy boots and riding his horse filled the room. He was a good friend, someone who lived well, put others before himself, who loved to be around people and act as a mentor.

Atchley said in one of his conversations with Compton before his death, he told him, “I hope I left some deep tracks along the way for others to follow. I don’t fear death. Most men do. But what they fear more is a life without significance. I would have hated to have gone through life without contributing.

“I’m sure you’ll all agree with me that Dick Compton did indeed leave his footprints on the sands of time,” Atchley said.

Here’s how several statements on the program described him:

“You had strength and resolve to be a pillar in our community.”

“I believe you were one of the finest commissioners our county ever had.”

“I am honored to have worked side by side with you.”

Sandy Patano read a note from Gov. Brad Little:

“I knew Dick as a friend and a colleague. He served the people of North Idaho honorably as both a county commissioner and a state senator. Dick’s life was full of personal and professional accomplishments and the greatest of all was the love of his family and friends.”

Patano went on to say that, “Dick Compton cared about people and Dick Compton showed up when it mattered. I think most of us will agree that politics are successfully executed by people who have relationships and friendships. Dick Compton had both of those. He loved representing us. It is what propelled him into public office. And kept him in public office for as long as he wanted.

“It’s why today so many of us are here to pay tribute to the life Dick Compton and honor his family with our attendance. Rest in peace, Dick.”

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Compton