In Memoriam: Albert R. Compaglia, Honorary Alumnus

Albert R. Compaglia, named an honorary Saint Mary's alumnus in 1995 after decades of dedicated service to the College, died on April 18 in Walnut Creek at the age of 88.

Brother Mel Anderson, FSC, former president of Saint Mary's College, said, "Al was very devoted, practical, and generous. He really felt that the College was a very important part of his life. When he said he'd do something, he'd do it. He was a very loyal and faithful man."

Compaglia played an important role in funding scholarships to help Contra Costa County high school students attend Saint Mary's College. In 1972, he took a post he would hold for the next 30 years, as chairman of the College County Scholarship Fund. The organization hosted popular annual fund-raising events, including golf tournaments and wine festivals that involved as many as 30 wineries. In the 1980s, the annual wine festival alone often raised more than $20,000, reaching a peak of $32,000 in 1989.

In addition to providing scholarships, the organization was instrumental in building relationships between the community and Saint Mary's, according to John Leykam, special assistant to the director of athletics and longtime employee of the College. "Many community members became supporters of the College, and a few became Regents," said Leykam.

Michael Verlander, president of the College County Scholarship Fund, says that one of the reasons he got involved in the fund was because "it was so much fun to be around the group that was running it," with Al as the leader at the time. "Al was a very genuine guy," said Verlander. "He always had a twinkle in his eye and a smile and a grin. He always got down to business, but in a nice way."

Compaglia was born in San Francisco and moved with his family to Martinez at a young age. He graduated from Alhambra High School and attended the University of California, as well as Sacramento Junior College. He served in World War II as a company commander. After the war, he enjoyed a 35-year career in industrial relations, labor mediation, and public affairs with the federal government, including a stint with the Concord Naval Weapons Station.

Compaglia also served for 13 years as a member of the Contra Costa County Planning Commission, including 2 years as chairman. After leaving the commission, he founded a business helping Northern California developers with land use and zoning issues.

Compaglia is survived by his sister, Virginia Marchi Bergold of Vacaville; his sons, Albert Jr. of San Francisco, Dominic of Martinez, and John of Walnut Creek; his brothers-in-law, John Davi of Aptos and Orlando Bergold of Vacaville; his daughters-in-law, Donna Compaglia and Patricia Compaglia; seven grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and four nieces and nephews. His wife, Rita, to whom he was married for 62 years, died in 2003.

A viewing will be held on Monday, April 25, starting at 4 p.m. at Connolly & Taylor with a vigil at 7 p.m., also at Connolly & Taylor. A funeral Mass will be held Tuesday, April 26, at 10 a.m. at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Martinez. Donations in Al Compaglia's memory may be made to St. Catherine of Siena Church in Martinez.