When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

31 December 2005

Every life makes a difference

While I was home over Christmas, we got a call from a reporter at the Raleigh News and Observer. They were doing a year-end feature on people in the community who had passed away over the last year, and wanted to interview us about Dad.

The story ran in this morning's N&O: "Every life makes a difference," (Saturday, December 31, 2005.) The entire article is fascinating reading.

Here's the bit about Dad, which runs at the very end:
Bob Campbell, 69, Raleigh
Though disabled, he was neighborhood's Mr. Fix-It

Bob Campbell lost the ability to walk at 31, but he never gave up his will to live.

Inspired by his young son, the IBM engineer from Western North Carolina soldiered on in a wheelchair by laughing at the small indignities of his disability and by tinkering with his Raleigh neighbors' lawn mowers.

Campbell died in October at the age of 69.

He savored taking things apart and putting them back together. He spent his first few years at IBM traveling the world for the company.

His life changed in November 1967, when he borrowed a friend's motorcycle. He lost control of the bike on a country curve in Rowan County, flew into a field and snapped his back.

Campbell was paralyzed from the chest down, and life was harder. He had to pull himself out of bed in the morning, required help getting dressed and could no longer control his bladder.

"His sense of humor got us through the hard times," said his wife, Betty. "We laughed about things that you never would think we'd laugh about."

He developed a reputation as the mechanical handyman of Raleigh's Oak Park neighborhood, fixing lawn mowers and children's bicycles for free in the shade of his carport.
I can't tell from the web version of the article whether they ran a picture of Dad. But in case they didn't, here's one from his retirement party, at which he was presented with a toy lawnmower as a gag gift from his friends and colleagues, who knew of his mechanical proclivities.

bob campbell presented with toy lawnmower 1992
I hope you don't expect me to fix this.

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