Rev. John Compton, 71, taught, wrote on pastoral counseling

May 02, 2002|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

The Rev. John R. Compton, a Lutheran minister who had been chairman of the Department of Pastoral Counseling at Loyola College's Columbia campus, died Monday of polyneuropathy at Carroll County General Hospital. He was 71.

Mr. Compton, a Sykesville resident, was department chairman at the Columbia site from 1991 until his retirement in 1995.

Born and raised in Washington, he was a 1949 graduate of McKinley High School. He earned his bachelor's degree in sociology from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, in 1953, and a master's in divinity from Evangelical Lutheran Theological Seminary, also in Columbus.

Mr. Compton was ordained that year into the former American Lutheran Church, now the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. He served pastorates in Jacksonville, Fla., from 1957 to 1966, and in North Haledon, N.J., from 1966 to 1970.

While living in North Haledon, he completed a graduate program in pastoral counseling at the Postgraduate Center for Mental Health in New York City, and a master's in sacred theology from New York Theological Seminary, both in 1969. In 1977, he earned a doctorate in ministry from Lancaster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania.

"He loved counseling and felt he had a gift that way," said his wife of 46 years, the former Margaret Ann Riggs, who said her husband made a career change when he joined the staff of Spring Grove Hospital Center. From 1971 to 1972, he was supervisor of training in clinical pastoral education at the state hospital.

In 1972, he was appointed assistant professor of pastoral theology at St. Mary's Seminary and University School of Theology and Ecumenical Institute in Roland Park. He later was director of field education and was chairman of its Department of Pastoral Theology.

Mr. Compton started working part time at Loyola College in 1977 as an adjunct professor and supervised students in the graduate program in pastoral counseling at Columbia. In 1991, he was named chairman.

"What he's known for is his healing presence and his pastoral counseling," said Robert J. Wicks, who succeeded him as department chairman.

Mr. Compton was considered an expert in marriage and premarriage counseling, crisis counseling, group dynamics and group supervision,

"He was the kind of guy that always gave advice in a way that made it seem that you thought of it yourself. He was always a good listener," said Ann Kaiser Stearns, a psychologist, author and professor of psychology at the Community College of Baltimore County's Essex campus.

"He was very popular with students and beloved by his colleagues. He was an incredibly selfless human being with a deep, abiding and strong faith that lasted until his last breath," said Ms. Stearns, author of Living Through Personal Crisis.

He wrote widely on counseling and was co-author of Pastoral Counseling, published by Prentice-Hall in 1983.

Mr. Compton enjoyed spending time at a cottage he maintained at Cod Creek on the northern neck of Virginia's Eastern Shore. He enjoyed shell collecting and painting.

He was a member of Christ Lutheran Church, 5700 Edmondson Ave., where services will be held at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Compton is survived by a son, John D. Compton of Parkville; a daughter, Sharon Leigh LaFever of Eldersburg; and a granddaughter.

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