obit template2018-11-29T12:10:12+00:00


Laurence B. Compton, Jr. (“Larry”)

Age 74 years. Larry passed away in the company of his wife and daughter on January 23, 2020. Loving husband to Mary Pat “Patty” (nee Coffey) for 35 years. Devoted father to Michael (DeAnne) Jacobsen, Stephanie Compton, and Adam (Allison) Compton. Proud grandfather of Audrey, Ava, Harrison, and Annabelle. Caring son of Ruth Ann Compton. Friend and brother to Kelly (Ted) Grems and Scott (Camilla) Compton. Preceded in death by his first wife, Janet (nee Korte), son, James Jacobsen, and father, Laurence B. Compton, Sr. Further survived by extended family, business colleagues and friends.

Larry was born September 18, 1945 in Jamestown, North Dakota. He grew up in an Air Force family and earned BA and MBA degrees from the University of Nebraska. He was an entrepreneur with a quick mind for distilling information and unparalleled abilities in strategic planning. He began his professional career at the Cornhusker and Trane companies in the heating and air conditioning business.

He partnered with Anderson-Roethle Consultants in Milwaukee and was instrumental in establishing a children’s book company. In time, he accepted an offer of partnership in that company, reorganized and renamed it “The Penworthy Company,” and ultimately became its president and sole owner. With expectations of excellence, a laissez-faire management style, and a unique ability to motivate others and “get things done”, Larry grew Penworthy to provide desirable jobs in Milwaukee’s Third Ward and nationwide through a field sales force.

Larry enjoyed his success within the Milwaukee business community and recognized and appreciated the opportunities afforded him. A consummate gentleman, Larry valued education, a strong work ethic and respected everyone. He had an astoundingly sharp mind, especially for business, a quick wit, and sense of humor. You could depend on Larry to deliver a superb joke.

Always generous and available to guide others, Larry was humble and avoided the spotlight himself. He was active in the civic and cultural life of the city, contributing both professionally and financially. Larry served on boards of the Historic Third Ward Association, Milwaukee Public Library Foundation, Friends of the Golda Meir Library, and Economics Wisconsin, where he shared his abilities in management and finance to influence those organizations’ success. He was an active supporter of the local performing arts, most notably the Next Act Theatre. Larry had a strong interest in architecture and an affinity for construction. It was his honor to be an advisor on the board of C.G. Schmidt for many years.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Sunday, February 9, 2020, at 6pm at the Next Act Theatre (255 S. Water St, Milwaukee). All are welcome to gather at 6pm for light refreshments. Memorial program begins at 7pm with reception to follow. A Mass of Christian burial is scheduled for Monday, February 10, 2020, at Old Saint Mary’s Church (844 N. Broadway, Milwaukee). Family will receive guests at the church from 9am until Mass begins at 10am.

Special thanks to the staffs of the Lutheran Home and Seasons Hospice for their gentle care, compassionate guidance, and support. Memorial gifts to Greater Milwaukee Foundation in support of the Compton/Jacobsen Family Fund (101 West Pleasant Street, Suite 210, Milwaukee, WI 53212). Private interment at Highland Memorial Park.

Please use the above tabs to share a memory or sign the online guest book.

Past Comments

Bill Hattendorf

Larry was not only a great guy, dad and a great neighbor but a great friend. Larry you will be missed. God be with you and your family!

Quin Brunette

I am a painting contractor that did work for the Penworthy Co. Larry met with me to go over the very first job we did for him. Through our conversation I told him I was expecting my first child. He took me to the warehouse and gave me a book for my soon to be daughter. So thoughtful. I did many jobs for Larry and would always stop in his office and chat with him.

A true Gentleman. Thanks for being just that. Q.

Terry Mestan

Larry was a wonderful neighbor and friend. He was a great story teller and I loved his wit. Thank you for being in my life and for the compassion you had for everyone.

Rick Luedke

Larry was truly a joy know and share projects with during our time together at Anderson-Roethle! His collaborative efforts made all of us think hard during planning and strategy meetings.
He truly made the world better than he found it….and always with a smile and positive outlook.
Larry kept ahead of the game, a Plan B (and sometimes a “C”) at the ready if needed.

He will be missed. Our sincere condolences to Patty and the Compton family,

Patrick Jeffords

Larry was always fun to talk to. I remember he always took extra time to chat. He was so gracious. I will remember his laugh.
He told very funny jokes and stories.
My heartfelt sympathies to Patty and his family.
Larry will be forever remembered and missed.

George R

In three years working at Penworthy, I appreciated that Larry treated regular workers there with respect and advocated for them, and approached problems with a sense of humor. When I was considering leaving the job to go to school, he provided encouragement and observations that aided in my decision. I wish his family the best.

Kathy Liberski

Larry was a great boss and mentor. I worked with him for nine years at American Media and then the Penworthy Company. During my employment there, he always treated me with respect and encouraged me to think out of the box. It was the most difficult decision to make to leave the Penworthy Company but Larry understood, I had done everything I could do at the company and I needed a new challenge. When I left I told him I would never work for another company as long as I did for the Penworthy Company and I never did. I had a very successful career working with high growth companies. When I had to make a hard decision that would affect the company’s financial position, I always asked myself what would Larry tell me to do even though he wasn’t there and followed his advice that he implanted in me many years ago.
Larry and I often swamped stories about our families and teenagers’ growing pains. I know he loved his kids and Patti very much. I am truly sorry for their loss and the void I know they must be feeling right now.
If you didn’t know Larry very well, his height and size could be intimidating but at his core he was nothing but a big Teddy Bear. When I think of Larry, I imagine him driving around in heaven in his BMW or as he would refer to it, his sail boat. I was hoping to make the service tonight and tell his family directly these thoughts and share stories but with all of the snow I won’t be able to make it. I will keep his family in my prayers.

Richard Haga

I worked with Larry at the Trane Home Comfort Center after he moved here with his family from Dallas. I think it might have been around 1979. Larry was my boss until the business was closed by Trane. I remained friends with Larry throughout the years. I always would say Larry was one of my favorite bosses. He always treated everyone with respect and encouragement. Larry was kind and caring and will be missed by many. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Patty, his family and his many friends. God Bless!!

Caryn Gracey Jones

I learned so much from Larry at a formative point in my career. He was a generous and gave honest feedback. I remember once he noticed that I was staying late into the evening. He sat down at my desk and asked if I was struggling with my work load. He said that it concerned him when staff were working late and he wanted to know what he could do. I laughed because I was actually working on grad school work before going to my second job. He got worried that I was working another job, but it was at the Stackner Cabaret so I could get free theatre tickets. It turned out that he and Patty were going to the show that night, which is why he was still there at that hour. That’s when we discovered our mutual love of theatre. Another vivid memory was on 9/11 (probably the next day) when he and I worked together to come up with an idea for a special edition Penworthy Bear poster. He couldn’t just sit there without doing SOMETHING and he gave me the opportunity to help create something small to commemorate the tragedy. He was right when he told me when I resigned from Penworthy that I should have thought twice about the company I was joining. He knew their business model and the key players and thought it wasn’t a stable position. I should have listened to him. They laid me off six months later when the reorganized the company! Even today, I was actually doing a search to see if I could contact Larry to get a copy of the template he had us use to write procedures for all of my tasks and to see if he could recommend an app to help us track a project through its steps. I’ve taken the practice of writing procedures to every job, but I’ve always been a bit haphazard about it. Now I want it to be streamlined so I wanted his form. I was shocked and saddened to see that he was gone, and so recently. I wish I had stayed in touch. I’m sure I would have learned another dozen or so lessons.

I am so sorry for the loss of this tremendous human being.

Leave a condolence or share a memory

Go to Top