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Bristol business icon passes away

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January 18, 2007

By CYRUS LEVESQUE AND JOHN S. McCRIGHT

BRISTOL — Bristol lost a well-loved local businessman, public servant and community member last Friday when Armand Compagna, 64, died after a brief struggle with cancer and other maladies.

About 350 people paid their final respects to Compagna during visiting hours at Brown-McClay Funeral Home on Monday, recalling a man recognized as a selectman, barber, outdoorsman, policeman and in his many volunteer roles.

“He’ll be remembered for his caring attitude. He’d do anything for anybody,” said Brian Fox, president of the Bristol Rescue Squad. “He’s done so many different things, he’s known by just about everybody.”

Compagna worked in various roles with the rescue squad for about 30 years. He also gave 35 years of service to the Addison County Sheriff’s Department and the police departments of both Bristol and Vergennes. (See obituary, Page 6A.)

He served on the selectboard for seven years. He was elected to his fourth two-year term on the board on Town Meeting Day last March. Bristol Town Clerk Therese Kirby said that Compagna’s seat will be open at the upcoming town meeting. A Bristol resident can get on the ballot by submitting a petition signed by 28 town residents by Jan. 29, and the winner of the election will serve for the one year remaining on Compagna’s term.

“Armand loved serving on the board, he loved the town,” said selectboard chair Warren Baker. “We will miss his quick wit and his sense of duty that made him important to the town.”

Although Compagna devoted more than four decades to lending a hand in Addison County, he was born in Morrisville. After attending Peoples Academy, he married his childhood sweetheart, Sharon Dubuque, attended barber’s school and started in Burlington on his career as a barber.

Sharon Compagna, who in February would have celebrated with Armand 44 years of marriage, recalls how her husband was popular and served a clientele that included a prominent TV anchorman. Some people from Bristol urged Compagna to bring his tonsorial skills to their village.

“Once we found a barber shop for sale we came to Bristol,” Sharon Compagna said.

In Bristol, the Compagnas raised two daughters, Christy and Wendy, while Armand ran his business out of a shop connected to their home. Since opening shop more than 40 years ago, Compagna cut the hair of as many as four generations in some families.

Fox said that Compagna always had a joke to tell, and Sharon Compagna agreed that her husband’s sense of humor was an important part of who he was.

“He told people they would get a free haircut and $9 worth of jokes,” she said.

Because of Compagna’s love for hunting and fishing, the barbershop also sold guns and ammunition. “It was pretty unique, he had a little of everything in the shop,” Fox said.

Looking to share his love and respect for the outdoors, he taught hunter safety courses during the last five years, helping some 375 youths gain their hunting certification over that time.

Compagna could also be found helping out with the Bristol and Monkton fire departments and on the finance committee at St. Ambrose Church.

According to Fox, Compagna will be remembered by the community for his sense of service and dedication to helping others.

“He was real close, (like) a family member to me, more than a member of the squad,” Fox said.

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