Mary K. Compton(1926-2012)

Mary Kilburn Lighthall Compton was born April 20, 1926 in Syracuse, New York, and died Oct. 14, 2012. Her parents were Richard John Lighthall and Helen Cooper French Lighthall.
She is survived by her husband, William R. Compton; her son, Richard and his wife Beverly of Pagosa Springs, Colo.; her daughter, Elizabeth "Betsy" and her husband Eric Grubman and their two sons, James (Jake) and Samuel of Summit, N.J.; and her son Robert Hayward "Bob," his three children, Rose, Martha and Henry, their mother Lilian Jackman, his wife Margaret (Meg) Burch and their sons, Kirby and Kyle. Mary has one living brother, Frederick Lighthall of Harbert, Mich.
She grew up in Darien Conn., where she attended the public schools. Her final year of high school was spent at what was then called the Northfield School for Girls. From there she went on to Oberlin College, majored in Religion and participated actively in the athletic and cultural life of the campus. During her freshman year, she started dating her future husband, and they became engaged in the spring of their senior year, graduating together in 1948.
On Aug. 6, 1949, she was married in Darien to William R. Compton, son of Carl C. and Ruth (McGavren) Compton. She had spent the intervening year as a customer service representative for the Southern New England Telephone Co., while her future husband took a position as teacher of history and religion at Mount Hermon School, the boys' half of what was then known as the Northfield Schools. The couple spent two years at Mount Hermon, during which time their first child, Richard Carlton, was born and Mary got a good taste of what boys' boarding school life was like, since they were housed in a building which also was the home of 120 boys.
After a year spent in Darien, while Bill earned an MA in History at Columbia University, the young family moved to Thessaloniki, Greece, where Bill taught English to Greek boys at Anatolia College, an American secondary school for Greek students. Mary was active in the life of the college and what was then a sizable American community in the city. Their daughter Betsy was born while they were in Thessaloniki.
In 1955, the family returned to the United States, and after two years in Salisbury, Conn., where Bill taught at the Salisbury School, they returned to Mount Hermon, and remained there for 35 years, until they retired in 1992. Their son Bob was born in 1962. Although Mary was never a full-time employee of the school, she was active in assisting her husband as a dorm parent, as a frequent hostess, chair of the PTA of the local Gill Elementary School, a member of the town Democratic Party, assistant to the Mount Hermon student activities director and, for several years, a member of the faculty as an assistant librarian. On their retirement and her husband were joint recipients of the Alumni Association's Lamplighter Award, in recognition of their many years of devoted service to the school.
Mary and Bill retired to a home they owned in Northfield, but after three years the attraction of snowless winters drew them to Beaufort, S.C. Beaufort proved to be an ideal retirement community for them.
They reveled in the charm of the Old South, made a number of new friends, and became active in church and university programs and the Beaufort County Democratic Club. Mary was co-founder of a book club for couples, and they felt very much at home in an area whose flavor was markedly different from the Yankee-land in which they had been nurtured. But after a stay of nine years they decided it was important to be nearer their children, so they moved back to South Hadley, in the Connecticut River Valley they knew so well.
A memorial service will be held at the Mount Hermon Chapel on a date yet to be determined. Mary has requested that any memorial gifts be sent to the scholarship fund of either Northfield Mount Hermon School or Anatolia College.

Published in The Recorder on Oct. 17, 2012