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Funeral honors Detroit area homebuilder, family killed in plane crash

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Northville — Relatives and friends of a Northville family who perished in a Jan. 2 plane crash in Lyon Township gathered Wednesday to remember and honor them.

David S. Compo, 60; wife, Michele, 55; and their son, Dawson, 18; were all killed when the single-engine Piper PA-24 crashed into a home on Dakota Drive in the Orchards of Lyon subdivision — about a half mile from the Oakland/Southwest Airport. No one was injured on the ground in the crash, which remains under investigation.

Mourners console each other after the funeral Mass for David, Michele, and Dawson Campo at Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church in Northville on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. The family was killed in a plane crash Jan. 2 in Lyon Township.

The Compos were returning home from visiting a relative in Canton, Georgia, when the crash occurred. Compo, a former president of the Home Builders Association of Southeastern Michigan, was reported to be an experienced, licensed pilot.

During an hour and a half funeral Mass Wednesday at Our Lady of Victory Catholic Church, mourners prayed, sang hymns and shared stories about Compo’s love for flying, saying he would often call up friends without notice to join him for an unplanned flight to Traverse City, Cleveland or elsewhere for lunch or dinner.

The Rev. Denis Theroux recalled the Compo family occupying the second pew in the church at services.

“David always had a big grin and loved to tell jokes,” said Theroux. “Michele was kind and generous and warm and a great baker. “And Dawson was a real gentleman and a hard worker who did everything from sweeping floors to sketching model homes.”

Theroux said Compo called him after seeing him last month on a livestream church broadcast, told the priest, “You look kind of tense,” and invited him to go flying with him and have lunch.

Theroux said words fail to explain such a tragedy and advised mourners to “reach out and love and hold one another.”

Mary Demarest was Michele’s college roommate and lifelong best friend. She recalled how they traveled together and devoted every Thursday night watching the 1980s TV show “Knots Landing” together. Even years after their college days, the pair would get together on Thursday nights to shop or enjoy each other’s company.

Paul Pilat, Michele’s brother, said his brother-in-law must have “ordered this beautiful” day, referencing the sunny Wednesday morning.

“He would say, ‘This is a day we got to go flying,’” Pilat said.

David Compo was an avid pilot.

All of the Compos worked for Compo Builders, a Novi company formed in 2013 with Chris Compo, David's brother. David and Michele Compos had been married for 22 years and Dawson, who graduated from Detroit Catholic Central High in 2020, recently completed his first semester at Michigan State University.

The family suggested donations to several charities or the Compo Family Memorial Scholarship through the Home Builders Association Charitable and Educational Foundation.

Donations to the Compo Family Memorial Scholarship will be used to fund an annual scholarship to support southeast Michigan residents aged 18 to 25 who are beginning work in the residential construction industry or studying to work in the skilled trades.

Donations to the scholarship fund may be made online at: or by mailing a check to the HBA Charitable & Educational Foundation at 30400 Telegraph Road, Suite 202, Bingham Farms, Michigan 48025, Attn: Compo Scholarship Fund. Each donor will receive a letter acknowledging their donation and the Compo family will be notified of the donor’s generosity.

(248) 338-0319