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Compton ends 27 years at helm
Ripon administrator retires after long career
Retiring Ripon City Administrator Leon Compton sets a good-bye hug from Public Works employee Sarah Weaver. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Leon Compton didn’t want a big party or sappy speeches on his last day of work.

Instead, the city administrator for the City of Ripon met with close friends, longtime colleagues, and dignitaries for an ice cream social at Stouffer Hall.

After 27 years, he officially retired Friday as city administrator for the City of Ripon. Kevin Werner, who is the city engineer, will take his place in the interim.

“This was the way Leon wanted to go out,” Werner said.

Past and present employees under Compton had nothing but kind words. “He was the best boss I’ve ever had,” said Jeanne Hall, who, along with Mitzi Johnson and Barbara Snyder, had a hand in organizing the ice cream social.

For 20 years, Hall, who is the deputy city clerk, had Compton as her boss.

“He was always fair,” she said. “Leon expected you to do your job, but he also didn’t micromanage.”

What counted were the results. As city manager, Compton’s accomplishments for the City of Ripon are numerous.

“I might be the only city manager that’s been in one place long enough to have built two city halls,” Compton said.

The Ripon City Hall opened in 1990, with expansion of that facility completed some 16 years later.

 One of his earliest projects was the expansion of the Community Center in 1986. Two years later came the Senior Center and Clarence Smit Museum.

In 1989, Compton was credited with hiring Ripon police officer Steve Merchant. The Department of Justice Crime Lab under his watch debuted in 1995, as did the Main Street rehabilitation project.

Ripon, in 1997, unveiled the Mistlin Fountain at Oak Avenue. The following year came the Curt Pernice Skate Park.

Mistlin Sports Park and the signature Ripon water tower were completed in 2000 – the elevated water tower at Mistlin came four years later – while the community pool at Ripon High and pedestrian / bike bridge on the Stanislaus River opened in 2001.

Other projects under Compton’s watch included the Jack Tone Road interchange (2002), the CNG fueling station (2005), the Ripon Memorial Library (2006), and the Class 2 bikeway (2007).

“I think what I’ll miss most (in retiring) is the people,” he said.

Compton had no immediate plans for the future other than to “take it one day at a time.”

His sendoff included a few of his retirement quotable, including “I love my naps.”

Added Compton: “That one I did say.”

The others were “The trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off.”

“The pay stinks but the hours are good.”

And “Everyday is a weekend.”