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Dr. Phillip Compeau, a caring physician will be missed

Record Correspondent

   His office was filled to bursting with pictures of the family he loved: father and son in matching Ha-waiian shirts, a riot of color; mother and son carrying the Olympic torch, a crayon portrait of the father by the son. To judge a man by his office walls, he loved his family. His office was warm with professional, caring competence: friendly staffers hurried fore and aft spraying Lysol during flu season, and he wore a mask himself when he was germ-laden with a cold. His carriage (he could have been the poster boy for good posture), was stooped ever so slightly one day, bear-ing the burden of bad news for a newly diagnosed cancer patient. To judge a man by his office, he loved his patients. Dr. Phillip Compeau didn't exactly wear his heart on his sleeve (he was much too proper for that) but it was no secret that he was a caring, dedicated husband, father, and physician. I will also remember that he was great for laughs.

   I visited him last fall for a back injury. Unfortunately, I was in a good deal of pain. He prescribed medication, bed rest, and, yes! a month of therapeutic visits with physical therapist Chip Wiles (God's gift to pain-wracked bodies). A month later, the diligent doctor brought me in for a follow-up. I was doing very well, and asked him to sign a medical release for me to take up scuba diving. He sat, clipboard on his lap and pen in hand, and then his shoulders started to shake. There was no noise, no smile, just that silent shaking. "Are you laughing?" I asked, after a moment. "Yes, I'm laughing," he said, amused. Still no sound, though. "Are you laughing at me?" I asked. "Yes, I'm laughing at you," he said, and finally grinned. "My back injury patient wants to take up scuba diving." More shaking. "Well, the tank and gear will only weigh about 30 pounds, and the weight belt will be about 10 percent of my total body weight…" I began.

   "You've got it all figured out, don't you, Lisa?" he said, shaking his head, and signing the release. Last month, I saw Dr. Compeau for my annual physical. I was feeling so fit and energetic, and so en-thusiastic about my scuba diving experiences, he practically needed restraints to complete the exam. He was, as always, proper and professional, and nicely turned out in a tweed jacket with elbow patches to match his perfectly pressed trousers. (If he hadn't been such a great doctor, he would have made a terrific Latin professor.) Part of his very thorough physical was a mini eye exam to test my peripheral vision. He stood before me, crossing and uncrossing his arms, before him and overhead, wiggling his index fingers just barely within my peripheral view. "How many fingers do you see?" he asked, straightfaced. I answered correctly and then got the giggles. He tried to advance to the heart and lung exam but I had completely lost it by then. "Many people find this exam amusing," he said in a scholarly tone, "I suppose it is funny." The only things he found wrong with me that day were my too dry hands. He spent several minutes extolling the virtues of his preferred hand cream and describing his meticulous method of application. It was a detailed, discriminating discourse, and it was pure Compeau, and I loved it. The last time I ever saw him was that day, and he was smiling -- slightly -- as he walked away.

   When Dr. Compeau passed away on Monday, he left behind to cherish his memory a loving and be-loved wife, a precious and treasured son, a mother-in-law and father-in-law who thought he hung the moon, and a host of patients, colleagues, and friends who will remember his patience, his service, his dedication, and his values. Ave atque vale, Dr. Compeau. Dr. Phillip Edward Charles Compeau, age 54, of Brookwood Drive, Wilkesboro, died Monday, May 1, 2000, at Wilkes Regional Medical Center.

Philllip Compeau 1945-2000
Dr. Phillip Edward Charles Compeau, 54, of Brookwood Drive, Wilkesboro died Monday, May 1, 2000, at Wilkes Regional Medical Center. Funeral services will be 2 p.m. Thursday at Reins-Sturdivant Chapel with the Rev. Frank McKenzie officiating. Private graveside services will follow.

Dr. Compeau was born Oct. 11, 1945, in Niagara Falls, N.Y., to Phillip and Ethel Hope Jones Compeau. After graduating from the University of Rochester in 1967, Dr. Coumpeau earned his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in Boston, Mass. in 1971. He then trained as a medical resident at State University of New York at Buffalo. Dr. Compeau was a Fellow in Medicine and a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was later elected a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, which recognized his achievements in internal medicine, the specialty of adult medical care.

Dr. Compeau was a former head of internal medicine at Wilkes Regional Medical Center. He had been the long-term delegate of the Wilkes County Medical Society to the N.C. Medical Society. He was a member of the North Wilkesboro Elks Club and the Wilkes Chamber of Commerce.

He is survived by his wife, Teana Beasley Compeau of the home; and a son, Phillip Compeau III of the home. The family will be at Reins-Sturdivant Funeral Home Wednesday night from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Flowers will be accepted or memorials may be made to the charity of the donor's choice or to the Memorial Avenue Tree Fund, P.O. Box 218, North Wilkesboro, N.C. 28659.