Phillip Robinson "Phil" Compton (1920 - 2017)

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Philip Robinson "Phil" Compton, 97, of Front Royal, passed away peacefully November 21, 2017 with his family by his side.

He was a gracious, kind, highly intelligent gentleman who loved and was loved by all who met him.

Born July 22, 1920 in Alexandria, VA, he was the son of Oscar P. Compton of Romney, WV and Mary E. Robinson Compton of Waterlick, VA. He spent his childhood in Arlington, VA, and was a member of the cadet corp and graduate of Washington Lee High School, Class of 1937.

He was a graduate of Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Class of 1944, majoring in aeronautical and mechanical engineering. While at Virginia Tech, he was a member of the Corp of Cadets, ROTC, and Pi Tau Sigma engineering society.

His studies were interrupted by service in the US Army Corp of Engineers during World War II, and he later returned to Virginia Tech to graduate in 1947.

During the war, his unit built airstrips on Okinawa and other Pacific Islands to allow heavy bombers to bring the war to the Japanese homeland. He then served in Okinawa and other Pacific islands in World War II, and was mustered out of the Army as a 1st Lieutenant after serving a year in post-war Japan.

In recognition of his service to his country, he was awarded the Legion of Merit and several other decorations.

He received his Master of Science in Aeronautical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology in 1949.

While always rooting for his beloved "Hokies" and "the rambling wrecks" of Georgia Tech, he favored the "Hokies" in head-to-head competition.

He later served on the Committee of 100, an honor reserved for engineering graduates of Virginia Tech, who are recognized for their service to the engineering community. In 2007 and in 2016, he received awards from Virginia Tech's Academy of Engineering Excellence and Academy of Aerospace and Oceanic Engineering Excellence, respectively, for his service.

Mr. Compton was an aeronautical engineer at NASA's headquarters, and worked for Apollo astronaut, Harrison "Jack" Schmitt. NASA also recognized him for his service to the engineering community.

Prior to NASA, he worked for the former Douglas Aircraft Company, now part of Boeing, in Long Beach, CA, Lockheed Aircraft in Sunnyvale, CA, and Research Analysis Corporation in McLean, VA, where he was a project director.

He earned his Professional Engineering license, and served as the state President, Vice President, and other offices for the Virginia Society of Professional Engineers, VSPE. He was the Engineer of the Year for VSPE and received several outstanding service awards.

He was the President and Vice President of the Washington, D.C. Chapter for the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, AIAA, and a member for nearly 71 years.

Upon retiring to Front Royal, VA, Mr. Compton became involved in several organizations, including the Historical Society of Warren County, where he served as President, the Warren County Airport Commission, the Warren County Zoning Commission, and the Police Department's town and neighborhood patrol.

As a volunteer, he tutored students in reading and math at E.W. Morrison Elementary for nearly 20 years. Students and former students would stop him on the street to talk with him, and several former students and their parents came to his home on Halloween to trick-or-treat this year.

He also was active with the monthly men's breakfast and taught adult Sunday school at Front Royal United Methodist Church for many years.

An avid hiker, his daily walks around Dickey Ridge were legendary, and he developed wonderful friendships with the staff there. He also hiked in Colorado, the Grand Canyon, Mt. Whitney in California, and Mt. Washington in New Hampshire.

He traveled to every continent in his retirement years, with special trips to the Amazon, Antarctica, Alaska, China, Russia, Morocco, Egypt, Israel, Sweden, France, England, Scotland, Italy, Greece, and many other regions and countries.

He learned to fly in his youth, but took a hiatus from flying for many years. He received his pilot's license in his 70s!

In addition, to his parents, Mr. Compton was predeceased by his wife, Mary K. "Kitty" Stokes Compton of Front Royal. He was the son-in-law of the late Edward H. Stokes, founder of Stokes Furniture Company.

He leaves his sister, Anna Belle Compton Lane of Fairfax, VA; his daughters, Georgia E. Compton Fischel (Jud) and Carol E. Compton Hopkins (Skip Skarp); and his granddaughter, Pamela E. Hopkins Jones (Michael). He also leaves his nephews and nieces, other extended family members, and friends who knew him as "Phil" or "Uncle Phil".

We wish to thank the wonderful staff at Commonwealth Senior Living and Blue Ridge Hospice for their loving care and attention these last months of his life.

Visiting hours are 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, November 28, 2017 at Maddox Funeral Home.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, November 29, 2017 at the Front Royal United Methodist Church.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Samuels Public Library in Front Royal and the Department of Aerospace and Oceanic Engineering at Virginia Tech.

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Published in Northern Virginia Daily on Nov. 25, 2017
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