Melvin James Campbell passed away peacefully at 4:05 a.m. on Nov. 4, 2018, at his Hood River, Ore., home surrounded by family. He was 81 years of age at the time of his passing.
He was born on Nov. 20, 1936, in Richland, Benton County, Wash., to Ezra Cyrus Campbell and Florence Madeline Leininger.
He married Margaret Anna Zahn on Nov. 6, 1954, in Helena, Lewis and Clark County, Mont. He is survived by his wife, Margaret; sister, Grace Lucky of Spokane, Wash.; five children, Florence Fleming of Odell, Ore., Richard Campbell of Forest Grove, Ore., Cathleen Gibbs of Oregon City, Ore., Dianna Titus of The Dalles, Ore. and Dale Campbell of Salem, Ore.; 20 grandchildren, 31 great-grandchildren, and a plethora of nieces, nephews and cousins.
As a young boy, the family moved to various locations around Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana trying to improve their situation as they survived through the Depression Era. At the age of 6, he started school in Spirit Lake, Idaho. At the ages of 8 and 9, he was using a crosscut saw and splitting fence post to help the family. At 10-11, he was found in southern Idaho topping sugar beets. He learned the value of hard work and worked hard his whole life.
He started high school in Priest River, Idaho, and played on the baseball team. He was noticed by Louie Randall from Roy, Montana, and was offered a job on his cattle ranch if he would come to Roy to tend cattle and “gentling” wild horses and to play on the sports teams at the Roy High School. So, between his responsibilities, he played football and basketball on the Roy team. He became friends with the five Philips boys and was soon working for their father, who allowed the boys to do a bit of “rodeoing.” He didn’t much like the bulls and only rode them a couple of times, ‘cause they were vicious. He mainly rode the bareback broncs.
While in Roy, he became acquainted with the Zahn family, first with my great-grandma Zahn, and soon thereafter, he met the love of his life and swooped her away to Helena, Mont. They married and moved to Priest River, Idaho. He worked for a dairy in Coeur d’Alene, then changed jobs to work in the woods. While there, in 1955, their first child, Florence, was born in Sandpoint because Mom liked the doctors better in Sandpoint.
They moved to Kellogg, Idaho, for a better opportunity to work in the Bunker Hill mine, where he got sick with “leaded poisoning” and was told to get out of the mines by the doctors. In Kellogg, their second child, Richard, was born. They moved to Spokane, as he landed a job with Kaiser Aluminum. After a short time there, and because of a reduction in work force, they packed up to move back to Coeur d’Alene, but the ranch work in Roy, Mont., proved to be a better opportunity.
Two more children were added to the family, Cathleen and Dianna, both born in Lewistown, Mont.
A peat moss plant, working in the woods, and doing some carpentry work brought the family to Harlowton, Mont., and a seasonal stay in the woods, in a tent, above White Sulfur Springs. Their fifth and last child, Dale, was born during that time.
From there, he was hired on the Minuteman Missile project and moved to Devils Lake, N.D., to construct the silos there and, when finished, moved to Conrad, Mont., to construct more silos. The family remained in Conrad while he spent nine months in Vietnam on several other construction projects as a civilian contractor.
When he returned from Vietnam, he moved his family first to Willow Flat, then to Hood River, where he stayed for many years. He started a new career in parts, safes and supplies with Hood River Supply, Valley Farm Supply and Christiansen John Deere. He took a break and worked as a night security guard for the Bonneville Fish Hatchery, then landed the maintenance supervisor job at Hood River County, from which he retired from paid work to non-paid “honey do” work.
He was very big on family and keeping the family together. It may seem like he moved around many times, but most of it was to be close to his siblings and to work with them, especially through the Depression Era.
He came from a musical family and loved music. He taught himself to play the guitar and sang with various bands for extra money. His wife, Margaret, also has an amazing musical talent and would play the accordion and piano with the bands. Consequently, there was always music in his home and many of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren have developed that musical ability.
He loved being outdoors. He instilled that love in his family and there have been many camp-outs through the years. Hunting and fishing were top priorities. At times, the hunting and fishing were not as successful as they could be, but the family camping together was always successful. Teaching opportunities abounded during those camp-outs, such as: Don’t get caught in 10 below weather in a tent, without some kind of a heater …
He lived life and life lived in him. If anything can be said of him, it is that he is a great inspiration of dedication, determination, and a big heart. He loved us and we will always love him.
Thank you, Dad!
Services for Melvin are planned as follows:
Funeral service, 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10 at The Hood River Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints, 1825 May St., Hood River.
Graveside rites, 2 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 12 at The Roy Cemetery, Roy, Mont.
Arrangements are under the direction of Anderson’s Tribute Center (Funerals • Receptions • Cremations), 1401 Belmont Ave., Hood River. Visit www.AndersonsTributeCenter.com to leave a note of condolence for the family.
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