Joseph H. ‘Joe’ Compton

Oct 09, 2013

FITZGERALD, Georgia — Joseph H. “Joe” Compton, 83, of Fitzgerald, Georgia, died Friday, Oct. 4, 2013, at his residence.

Funeral services were held at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 6, at Arbor Baptist Church with the Rev. Dr. Lloyd Stembridge officiating.  The Revs. Danny Hughes and Robert Sherrill delivered eulogies.  Interment followed in the Evergreen Cemetery. The family received friends one hour prior to the service Sunday at the church.

Mr. Compton was born Feb. 7, 1930, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to the late Charles Earl and Myrtice Hodges Compton. He graduated from Sylacauga High School and received his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Alabama. He served his country honorably in the United States Army during the Korean War era. Mr. Compton did post-graduate work at the University of Alabama, the University of Georgia and Florida State University earning both his master’s degree and specialist degree in secondary education.

Coach Compton’s career in Fitzgerald began in 1957 as an assistant football coach. He served as coach and athletic director in Fairhope, Alabama for two years before returning to Fitzgerald as head coach. He led his team through integration and coached the Purple Hurricanes until 1968. His two years in Thomson saw him win his first state championship followed by a three-year stint in Canton, North Carolina, where he coached another state champion team and where he was inducted into the North Carolina Football Hall of Fame. Coach Compton returned to Fitzgerald in 1973 and coached both Hurricane teams as well as Irwin County Indian teams into the 1990s. An educator of economics, history and government, Coach Compton had great success inside the classroom. He was a three-time STAR teacher, twice in Fitzgerald and once in Irwin County. He introduced wrestling in south Georgia as a way to improve his football teams and he was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. He was a former member of First Baptist Church where he taught Sunday school for 35 years. Coach Compton was a member of Arbor Baptist Church and loved his farm and being outdoors. An avid fisherman, he enjoyed hiking the Appalachian Trail and spending time at Ridgecrest in North Carolina, a favorite childhood destination.

He is survived by his wife of 62 years, Audis D. Compton of Fitzgerald; two daughters and sons-in-law, Cyndy and Jeff Wade of Kingston, Tennessee and Beth and Brett Jerkins of Americus, Georgia; a son-in-law, David Maxwell of Summerville, South Carolina; and six grandchildren, Jennifer Wade, Josh and Ashley Wade, Michael and Maria Jerkins, Dillan Jerkins, Amanda Maxwell and Hannah Maxwell. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a daughter, Dawn Maxwell; two brothers,  Charles Earl Compton, Jr. and Byrd McKinley Compton; and a sister, Lurames Farris.

The family suggests those desiring to send memorials may send them to the Alzheimer’s Association, 100 Central Avenue South, Tifton, GA 31794; to the Fitzgerald-Ben Hill County Humane Society, 106 Lions Park Road, Fitzgerald, GA 31750; or to the Joe & Audis Compton Scholarship Fund, c/o Wiregrass Georgia Technical College Foundation North, 667 Perry House Road, Fitzgerald, GA 31750.

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Paulk Funeral Home, Fitzgerald, is in charge of arrangements.