Does someone know about the Dewey Compton and Curtis Compton roses?

Hi everyone,

I got this request from a dear friend that got a call recently from the daughter of Dewey Compton asking if someone had information about the roses named for Dewey and Curtis Compton. The daughter would love to learn more about the history of the roses and who bred them. My friend was having trouble posting the request.

Maybe the roses were bred by an early RHA member?

My friend writes:

"Dewey Compton was a famous professor/extension agent from Texas A&M. He started several radio programs, one of the most famous was “Garden Line” which continues today with more than a million listeners on Saturdays and Sundays. My grandfather used to listen to “Ole Dew’ every weekend morning and as little kids my sister and I had to be absolutely silent when we stayed with him so that he did not miss a word of “his program”.

Dewey and his wife were killed in 1976 in a airplane crash of a private plane that Dewey and his son were piloting, ferrying plants from a location in Texas to College Station and A&M’s campus. About the time of their deaths, two roses were introduced in the names of Dewey Compton and Curtis Compton in recognition of their work in Texas’ horticulture. I got a call last night from Dewey’s daughter who was 16 at the time of her parent’s death. She has asked for help in trying to find the roses or identify the breeder.

Neither cultivar is listed in the International Rose Registry, Modern Roses, The Combined Rose List, the US Patent & Trademark Office or HelpMeFind. That the roses are not listed in any of these places makes me think that an amateur hybridizer probably bred them and gifted the cultivar(s) to the family. Thinking the roses may have been part of Texas A&M’s breeding program, I checked with Dr. Byrne and he says neither came from A&M. Dr. Byrne suggested I try the RHA."


Given the circumstances my guess is that it’s something from Jack Walters’ operation.

I don’t see much in the way of an online presence for Kimbrew-Walters even at HMF but Jack was a pretty active breeder. He was largely responsible for establishing the RHA test garden at the ARS grounds in Shreveport, even paid for the deer fence iirc.

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That’s a great lead! Thank you Don!

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I couldn’t find anything either, but Ernest Williams was a big mini rose hybridizer from Texas in the 60s to the 80s (Mini Roses of Texas).

From my friend Baxter Williams:

You are correct about the roses named for the Comptons being bred by some local person, but I have no idea whom it was. They never made it to market, and Patsy and I joined the HRS when Dewey was on the KTRH Radio. The two gentlemen who continued the show for several years were Bill Zak and Ben Oldag, subsequently followed by John Burrow and Randy Lemmon. Zak and Oldag have both passed away, Burrow left the area, and Lemmon died just this past spring.

On the Monday following the Comptons’ deaths I called the station and spoke the Ben Oldag, telling him that the HRS could send someone to talk roses if he wished and needed, and I had Howard Walters in mind, and Oldag asked if I would come on the show. I told him that there were several in the Society who had more rose knowledge than me, but he insisted that I come instead — and so I did. I was a guest 2-4 times a year until about 3 years ago, ending up with the tag “The Rose Guy”. It was a good run.

But, I never heard about any roses with the Compton attached.