Norwalk plants 'a large tree for a large man'

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May 22—NORWALK — John Kompa's legacy will live on at Norwalk High School.

Kompa, a longtime math teacher and coach at NHS, died on March 26 at the age of 75. On Friday, friends and family gathered to dedicate a tree right in front of the Reagan All-Sports Complex behind the high school.

Among those present were his wife, Barb, and sons John Jr. and Brian.

"Norwalk High School is glad to have collected our money to put a living tribute here. This tree is going to get to 50 feet tall," principal Brad Cooley said. "... When kids get done working out or two-a-days this will a beautiful tree to have shade under.

"A large tree for a large man who taught many years at Norwalk High School. It will be beautiful in the fall. Come fall-time it will be a nice red-orange."

Cooley said the tree came from Miller Landscape (Bill and Steve Miller) and plaque from Dwight Tkach at Nobil's Sports & Trophies.

"Nothing better to show for a man who spent the bulk of his life and career at Norwalk High School caring about the kids and athletes here," Cooley added.

Longtime teacher and coach Wes Douglas had nothing but kind words for his fellow teacher. Douglas talked about a meeting when there was new information that worked up all of the younger teachers.

"John finally said, 'People, people, people — everything will be all right. You're all running around like a bunch of speed boats. I'm the old barge going right down the middle. It will be all right."

School board member Duane Moore was hired the same day at Kompa to teach in Norwalk. The two also worked together at the Ohio Turnpike toll booths on weekends and in the summer for many years.

Both came from Pennsylvania, and their high school teams actually competed against each other in basketball when the two were in school. Kompa was a senior and Moore was a sophomore when Kompa's team won that game in overtime "and he still would not let me live it down."

"John and I go way back," Moore said. "John and I both came to Norwalk in 1971 ... he was hired within a half hour of me. He grew up two blocks from my wife, which is ironic, now he lived three condos from us."

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