Last week, I had the pleasure of attending my majestic childhood church on Davis Street in Keyser to both sing and then enjoy the many musical talents of vocalists and musicians in our area.

By Trish Morgan
For the News Tribune
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending my majestic childhood church on Davis Street in Keyser to both sing and then enjoy the many musical talents of vocalists and musicians in our area.
When my family lived in Keyser before building our new home in Westernport, we kids attended First United Methodist Church. I just loved that beautiful church, and as a child, Rev. Harvey and my Sunday School teachers made such an impression on this little girl.
Any chance I have to go back to that church brings back so many memories - and last Sunday was no exception.
Since 1999, Keyser Rotary Club has presented a concert that showcases local musicians and vocalists in the community to benefit Faith in Action Food Pantry. In 2012, to honor its oldest member who had worked tirelessly on this concert each year, Keyser Rotary named the event the "Chester J. Compton Concert."
According to information shared with me by Patricia Rogers, I would like to tell you a little bit about Mr. Compton.
During his lifetime, Mr. Compton accomplished much, expected nothing in return - yet received much. He was a well-respected businessman, dedicated to life insurance and real estate.
"Mr. Compton was an enthusiastic, long-time Rotarian, past president and received the highest honor as a 'Paul Harris Fellow'," says Ms. Rogers. "He was gregarious, tall and handsome, with a great smile, and was a terrific vocalist. In fact, as a devoted tenor since 1959 in the Church Chancel Choir at First United Methodist, his voice stirred emotions every time he sang."
Mr. Compton was a graduate of Keyser High School and Potomac State College of WVU. His first wife of many happy years was Glenna Louise (who passed away in 1981), and they had three daughters - Nancy, Sandra and Mary Lynn. The Comptons were also blessed with three grandsons and five great-grandchildren. After his first wife's passing, Mr. Compton found love once again, and married Helen Fresh, and they enjoyed over 30 years of marriage and family life.
One very interesting tidbit of information about Mr. Compton is that he was a veteran of World War II, and was stationed at General Dwight D. Eisenhower's headquarters in Rheims, France. He also served in Frankfurt, Germany, during the war. Ultimately, Mr. Compton was given the honor by General Eisenhower to send a Telex to all United States forces in Europe to announce the end of World War II. How incredible that must have been to the young Mr. Compton.
Some other accomplishments by Mr. Compton during his lifetime include:
* first executive secretary of the Keyser Mineral County Chamber of Commerce (1951)
* former mayor of Keyser
* helped build Keyser Community Swimming Pool
* cut the ribbon at the Grand Opening of Memorial Bridge between Keyser and McCoole
* devoted lay leader and member of First United Methodist Church, Keyser, since 1923
* delegate to WV Methodist conference
* elected to the general conference of the Methodist Church
* helped foster children and find homes for them through Burlington United Methodist Family Services (BUMFS)
* served on the Board of Trustees of BUMFS for three terms
* honored by BUMFS as BOARD MEMBER EMERITAS
* Volunteer of the Year at Heartland (now Piney Valley)
* every Thursday, sang at Heartland for the residents, accompanied by Liza Taylor, pianist
* avid golfer - playing his heart out still at age 92!
All good things must pass, however. But, the family of Chester Jerome Compton takes comfort, I am sure, that he lived his life with humility, love and kindness, laughter and compassion for humankind. He left his mark, and there are many who remember all of the good that Mr. Compton did with his life. Let us all aspire to give as he did, to love as he did, to be as humble and compassionate for those less fortunate than we.
Mr. Compton passed away in July 2012, with the celebration of his life held at his beloved church on Davis Street, Keyser - at the age of 97. In death, as in life, the family asked that donations be sent to honor his life to both BUMFS and First United Methodist Church, Keyser.
I'd like to believe that Mr. Compton is very proud to see his fellow Rotarians and his Davis Street church continue what he started so many years ago. Yes, Mr. Compton, we still sing, we still cross that bridge, we still worship, we still volunteer where we are needed. Thank you for your life. It mattered. Truly.
In closing, I would like to introduce you to those who made last Sunday's concert so memorable and so meaningful. Anytime that talented, Christian musicians and vocalists come together in the house of God to sing praises of joy and thanksgiving is a day well-spent.
Thank you for your inspiration:
* Rev. Shirley Reed of First United Methodist Church - what glorious prayers you offered!
* Patricia Rogers - who volunteers so much time and effort in organizing this annual concert
* Richard Ridder - my first time hearing this classically-trained vocalist - MAGNIFIQUE!
* Rainbow Choir from BUMFS, directed by Cindy Hall - what a testimony of what love can do. These young people were so "on message," and made us all smile with their enthusiasm and love for music!
* Jace Courrier, Keyser - who recently appeared in Tommy Nester's "Seussical" at Keyser Middle School, and who will soon star as James in "James and the Giant Peach" with Apple Alley Players, June 9-11 and 16-18 at Larenim Park Amphitheatre, Burlington, WV. Jace, as always, you were amazing! And for a fifth-grader to get up and sing in front of a huge audience with such confidence and swagger - KUDOS!!
* Don Stephens, world traveler on missionary work to spread the word of the Kingdom of God - back here in his hometown of Westernport - lending his marvelous musical talents on both piano and accordion. I am a fan; his music speaks to my soul. Don will be leading a hymn sing this Sunday at Piedmont Presbyterian Church, Ashfield Street following the 5 p.m. community dinner. Everyone is welcome, and there is no cost to attend. Also, next Saturday at 7 pm, Don will present his final spring "Concert of Beauty" at Embassy Theatre, 49 Baltimore Street, Cumberland, MD. There is no admission, but a free-will offering will be taken to support Don's missionary work. Seating is limited to 104...reservations encouraged by calling 240-362-7183.
* Jean Marple, Bloomington - this woman has such a beautiful voice, and it's always a pleasure to hear her sing!
* Maysville Express - a fabulous expression of faith and harmony, accompanied by cello, guitar and mandolin, with a bluegrass feel for God's music!
* Community Gospel Choir, under the leadership of Rev. Harry Coleman and directed by Judy Bennett. Darnell Powell was just powerful in his solo during the choir's rendition of "Steal Away," and Judy and her tambourine lended inspiration to the choir's "God's Mansion in the Sky." Sounded great in that glorious church!
* Kevin Shreve, who has such a strong, yet mellow voice...always on par excellence. Loved his version of "Give Me Your Eyes!"
* Karen McDonald - BRAVO! Now, this woman can work those ivories! Her talent is unmatched, and she can sing...oh, can she sing!! When she sits on that piano bench, you just know something special is coming!
The concert ended that same way it has ended since it began 18 years ago. After a little background of information by Dr. Joe Gratto about Mr. Compton, the audience stood and sang as one - "Let There Be Peace On Earth." How absolutely perfect.
And, "let it begin with me."