NLJ Staff


Feb. 12, 1935–March 16, 2021

Wayne L. Compton was born Feb. 12, 1935, to Lewis M. and Evangeline Compton at his father’s homestead on the Limestone near Moon, S.D. This remained his home until he was 19 years old when he took a seasonal job with the U.S. Forest Service at Teepee Ranger Station. He worked as a logger and ranch hand in the Newcastle, Wyo., area. In 1955, he met his future wife while working on one of these ranches. He married Betty Mahnke in 1958, in Newcastle.

In 1959, he began a permanent career with the U.S. Forest Service at the Junction Ranger Station which brought the family to Custer, S.D. Their first child was born in May of that year. In 1961, the Harney Ranger District was created by a consolidation of Bear Mountain and Hill City ranger districts; Wayne moved to the district headquarters in Hill City, S.D., at this time. In 1962, they welcomed their second child and purchased a home on Clay Street in Custer. Wayne spent many years with the Forest Service serving as a fire control technician and in forestry management. He served with Black Hills Helitack, and as a liaison with contract fire crews fighting fires in many western states. He retired from the Forest Service in May of 1994.

After retirement he spent three summers returning to his love of horses working as a wrangler for Roy Miller’s Trail Rides north of Custer. In the fall of 1995, he started working for the Custer School District as a crossing guard and custodian in the winters and later a groundskeeper. He worked for the school district until 2010. Outside of his careers he served the community he loved in many ways. He was an active member of Saint John the Baptist Catholic Parish, a member of the St. Brendan’s Council of the Knights of Columbus for 56 years, he served as a member of the Custer City Council, he was active with Custer Youth Bowling and the Teener Baseball program and served as a member of the
Custer Volunteer Fire Department for
33 years.

He is survived by his wife, Betty Compton of Custer; daughter, Janice (Jim) Coates of Custer; daughter, Vicki (Daniel) Keierleber of Newcastle; grandson, Cody (Bridget) Coates of Thermopolis, Wyo.; granddaughter, Candace Keierleber of Federal Way, Wash.; granddaughter, Whitney (Justin) Cosenza of Casper, Wyo.; great-grandchildren, Zayden and Jasmine Cosenza, and Jackson, Grant and Andrew Coates; brother, Lewis J. Compton of Hill City; sister, Augusta Nissen of Billings, Mont.; and many extended family and special friends who continue to love him. 

Wayne passed away peacefully in his Clay Street home of 59 years on Tuesday March 16, 2021.

Christian funeral vigil services were  held 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 23, at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church
in Custer.

Christian funeral mass was held 10 a.m., Wednesday, March 24, at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Custer.

Christian funeral committal services will be held 2 p.m., Wednesday, March 24, at Greenwood Cemetery in Newcastle.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial has been established for St. John the Baptist Catholic Church gathering area.

Arrangements have been placed in the care of Chamberlain McColley’s Funeral Home in Custer.



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