Dale Lee Cumpston, Jr. was born in Olathe, Kansas on July 18, 1957 to Dale Lee Cumpston, Sr. and Margaret Virginia Cumpston (nee Rhead), the fourth of a total of six children, and the first boy. Sailing on a troop ship with his family to Japan, he got his the first of many maritime certificates, the Golden Dragon, for crossing the International Date Line only several months old! After a couple of years in Japan, the family moved to California, then Oregon, finally arriving back in Kansas in 1964, making Lawrence their new home. Dale spent much of his spare time fishing, biking and camping, but also visiting museums in the area and learning Kansas and Missouri border region history. As a fisherman, he excelled, catching a two pound bluegill while still in junior high (it was just 4 ounces shy of the state record at that time). During his school years, Dale was a gymnast, track runner and thespian, especially excelling as a mime, graduating in 1975 from Lawrence High School. Multi-talented, he was also the youngest member ever accepted into the Magicians' Guild at age 14, and he enjoyed performing magic for old folks homes and orphanages often during his following Naval Career.
Dale signed up in the Navy for the first time in 1975, going to Boot Camp in San Diego in January 1976, being meritoriously promoted to Seaman Apprentice upon graduation. He followed Boot with A-school, graduating at the top of his class, and was rewarded with a temporary assignment aboard USS CONSTITUTION (Old Ironsides) for three months. Afterwards he was assigned to the USS JOSEPHUS DANIELS (CG 27), during which he deployed repeatedly in the Atlantic, Mediterranean Sea and Persian Gulf, and awarded the honor of becoming a Bluenose for going into the Arctic Circle North of the Soviet Union, and also received the Order of the Ditch for going through the Suez Canal and deploying to the Persian Gulf in reaction to the Iranian Hostage crisis of 1979-80. After reenlisting Dale was involved in the decommissioning of the USS BRYCE CANYON (AD 36) and immediately transferred to be a commissioning crewmember (Plankowner) on the USS WILLAMETTE (AO 180), sailing through the Panama Canal to the Willamette River in Oregon, and then to Pearl Harbor, where he deployed into the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf. While in Hawaii, he was married, put his wife through school, then divorced with no children. Afterwards, he exited the Navy for two years, reenlisting in 1988, and serving as a leading member of the Military Detachment aboard the USNS SPICA.. While aboard the SPICA, he was selected from thousands of Sailors as the Maritime Sealift Command Sailor 1991 of the Year. After several years aboard the SPICA deploying extensively usually out of Subic Bay in the Philippines, including in Desert Storm-Desert Shield in 1990/91, he transferred to Naval Station Pearl Harbor where he ran the Signal Tower.
Dale's qualifications, aside from Signalman were as Coxswain, Quartermaster and Radioman of the Watch, and prior to his retirement he was the only qualified Dockmaster in Pearl Harbor for over a year - much to the chagrin of the Boatswain's Mates! During the military drawdown of the 1990s, he took advantage of an early retirement in October, 1995, coming home to stay on 50 acres he had bought with his father near Humansville, Mo, near his dad's lake house on Lake Pomme de Terre and his brother's acreage near Collins. Being an avid outdoorsman and amateur historian, he spent much of the next year fishing in SW Missouri and visiting historic sites on both sides of the border, and indulging in his passion for metal detecting.
After a bit more than a year in Humansville, he was enticed by an old (girl)-friend to move up to Madison, Wisconsin, living first in Madison, then in the towns Merrimac and Mazomanie. Initially he used his Navy training grinding surgical optics, but took additional training in facilities management at the University of Wisconsin. Ever the outdoorsman looking for a new skill, he learned trapping in Merrimac, and made substantial additional income while working at the former Badger Ammunition Plant. He remained in that area until late 2012, when he quit his job working in facilities maintenance at the University of Wisconsin in order to take time “while he still could to go fishing and treasure hunting“ around the country. He initially stayed often with his Sailor brother Vane (whom he advised not to join the Navy but who didn't listen) and family in Maryland, moving in South of Collins in early 2013, putting a cabin up on the acreage, and remaining there fishing, treasure hunting, and being a friend to many until his untimely death.
Dale was a skilled outdoorsman, amateur historian, curious and always willing to listen and learn. He mentored, helped and befriended many, and was a great Shipmate, Brother and Friend. Dale is survived by his mother, Margaret Rhead, sisters Mary Lee Imerzl, Karen Gail Beck, Vaneta Kay Mann, brothers Vane Albert and Gardette Rhead, and several nieces and nephews, having been close during his life to Lee, Freddie, Carrie Ann and Callum. He will be missed.