Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Margaret Allen LeCompte

St. Petersburg teacher Margaret LeCompte established ties with students that lasted a lifetime

ST. PETERSBURG — When John Harrison showed bad manners in history class, his teacher, Margaret LeCompte, called him a barbarian no better than Attila the Hun.

"She knew I had been raised better than that," said Harrison, 71, a dentist and the son of a prominent orthodontist.

Ms. LeCompte, who died Friday at 92, sometimes used a biting wit to get the best out of her students. More often, the 32-year teacher at Mirror Lake Junior High and St. Petersburg High schools commanded her classrooms by the force of her presence.

"She knew you could do it, and you'd better do it," said Carol Lee Wathen, 73, a member of St. Petersburg High's Class of 1953. As senate president that year, Wathen got to know Ms. LeCompte, the class adviser, especially well. As the city's only high school in 1953, its senior class had swelled to more than 700, a burden lessened by the opening of Boca Ciega the following year.

The students confided in her, Wathen said. They stayed in touch over the years, inviting Ms. LeCompte to their class reunions. She always accepted.

She grew up in Tampa as Margaret Allen, the daughter of the Rev. Robert Allen, a friend of Billy Graham's and a powerful speaker in his own right.

She skipped grades, graduating from Hillsborough High at 15. She moved to St. Petersburg in 1944, the year her father assumed the ministry of First United Methodist Church. She taught at Mirror Lake, then transferred to St. Petersburg High in 1951.

Ms. LeCompte read voluminously, usually in a favorite, well-lit chair in her home on 13th Street N. After her retirement in 1967, she played bridge, knit sweaters and joined a book club.

Another club member asked Ms. LeCompte to review books for the general public. She agreed, and for 20 years presented one or two reviews a year in a public lecture. She chose nonfiction books that were "factual and filled with interest," she told the Times in 1990. "I stay away from anything controversial, but women like just a touch of scandal."

She spent months selecting the right book, several more getting ready. Her meticulous reviews drew crowds of more than 200 to First United Methodist Church, to hear about anything from the Grimaldis of Monaco to the English monarchy to the Crusades.

She married once, to Eugene LeCompte, divorcing after six years. "It was a brave thing to do," said her daughter, Leanne Jump, 66. "Nowadays people get divorced all the time, but then women didn't do that."

Former students are quick to recall her influence. Retired Air Force officer Frederick Young stood before Berlin's Brandenburg Gate in the late 1960s, and found himself thinking about Ms. LeCompte.

"There were so many things that came back that she had instilled in us as students, and I was so thankful that she had," said Young, 74.

Young's class of 1953 holds its next reunion in November, its first without Ms. LeCompte.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at (727) 892-2248 or


Margaret Allen LeCompte

Born: Oct. 2, 1916.

Died: May 22, 2009.

Survivors: daughter, Leanne Jump; two grandchildren; and numerous extended family members.

Service: 2 p.m. Friday; First United Methodist Church, 212 Third St. N.

St. Petersburg teacher Margaret LeCompte established ties with students that lasted a lifetime 05/26/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 26, 2009 8:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Who is in charge during a hurricane? Hillsborough County and Tampa still can't agree


    TAMPA — Who has the authority to order an evacuation during a hurricane?

    Mayor Bob Buckhorn says he has evacuation authority.
  2. Gators rally past Kentucky, streak hits 31


    LEXINGTON, Ky. — For the second week in a row, Florida found itself storming the field in a game that came down to the last second. A 57-yard field-goal attempt by Kentucky kicker Austin MacGinnis came just a few feet short of making history and snapping a 30-year losing streak, as the No. 20 Gators escaped a …

    Florida wide receiver Brandon Powell (4) scores a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Kentucky, Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Lexington, Ky.
  3. Pen makes it way too interesting as Rays hang on for 9-6 win


    A couple of home runs provided the news pegs of the night for the Rays, but it was more topical to talk about what nearly happened as they hung on for a 9-6 win over the Orioles.

    Lucas Duda's three-run homer in the third inning was the Rays' record-breaking 217th of the season, as well as his …

  4. An attempt to project what Rays will look like in 2018

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — We know what the Rays look like this year: a team that had enough talent but too many flaws, in construction and performance, and in the next few days will be officially eliminated from a wild-card race it had a chance to win but let slip away.

    Adeiny Hechavarria, high-fiving Lucas Duda, seems likely to be brought back.
  5. Trump fallout: Bucs' DeSean Jackson to make 'statement' Sunday


    Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson said Saturday that he will make a "statement" before today's game against the Vikings in response to President Donald Trump's comment that owners should "fire" players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) makes a catch during the first half of an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.