Impact of Giving

These are the stories of the individuals and foundations who help advance Chicago medicine and science through their vision and philanthropy.

Charles Compton

Donor Stories

Compton Family Rooted at University of Chicago

In the Compton household, the University of Chicago was synonymous with success. In the early 1900s, patriarch Don Martin Compton graduated from the University while his cousin Arthur Holly Compton taught physics and was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1927. Continuing the family legacy, Don Martin's son, Charles Compton, attended the Laboratory School as well as the business school.

“The University of Chicago was a pretty important school to the whole family,” says 94-year-old Charles Compton. “It’s such a prestigious institution that goes back a long way in our family history.”

In recognition of that relationship, the Comptons made a $640,000 bequest to the University, which will be designated to the Department of Surgery.

“We thought that with the excellent work that is being done in the medical field now, this gift would allow for other advances in health care for future generations,” says Charles Compton. He and his family chose the Department of Surgery because of their close associations with individuals who have worked in the department.

Gift to Impact New Hospital Pavilion
With the Medical Center’s new state-of-the-art hospital set to open in 2013, the opportunities and needs for the Department of Surgery are unprecedented for the high-tech facility, says Jeffrey Matthews, MD, Chair of the Department of Surgery.

“As we continue to demonstrate and advance our role as leaders in surgical innovation, this extraordinary gift will be an integral piece of our efforts,” Matthews says. “Simply knowing that these funds are available enhances our ability to plan for the future with purpose and intent while also managing the more immediate needs that establish the foundation for future accomplishments.”

The New Hospital Pavilion will be outfitted with the most advanced surgical, procedural, and diagnostic technologies available to the medical profession, including space for 28 operating rooms, accommodating surgical scenarios ranging from multi-organ transplants to minimally invasive robotic surgeries.

History of success
“We’ve always been so impressed with what the University is doing,” says Charles. “Knowing the great contributions of my family challenged us to be as successful as the others.”

And that success has trickled down through Charles’ family. The father of four children, his eldest daughter, Ann Compton, was the first woman White House correspondent for a major television network. She currently serves as an ABC News national correspondent. “Around here, I’m known as Ann Compton’s father,” Charles says of his retirement home in Evanston, IL.

One of the highlights of his daughter’s career came on 9/11, when she was the only broadcast reporter allowed to remain aboard Air Force One during the tense hours when President Bush was unable to return to Washington, D.C.

“She called me that day and said, ‘Dad, don’t worry, I’m now going into a bunker with the president,’” he recalls.

His oldest son, Arthur, retired as a full colonel after 30 years of service in the Air Force; another son is a computer scientist; and his other daughter focuses on animal rescue and dental care for pets.

The Comptons resided in Hyde Park and Kenwood for a number of years, which allowed Charles to be in close contact with his cousin, Arthur Holly Compton, who also lived nearby.

“I remember having dinner with Dad and Dr. Arthur Compton, but they wouldn’t say much about his research,” Charles recalls.“ He and his son used to travel around the world conducting cosmic rays research. He later led the University’s Manhattan Project, which was very memorable.”

Meaningful impact
“That this gift comes from the Comptons—a family with such an eminent history at the University—makes its impact particularly meaningful,” adds Matthews. “I am deeply honored to be a part of this gift and to ensure it is put to the very best use.”

For more information on how you can make a bequest to the University, please contact Jill Doherty at (773) 702-3055.

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