Charles Eugene Campbell
November 9, 1931 – October 12, 2021
Charles Eugene Campbell, PhD, 89, went to the Lord on Tuesday, October 12, 2021.
Charles was born the son of John Clark Alexander Campbell and Jewell Tipton Campbell on November 9, 1931 in Fristoe, MO. He grew up on the family’s dairy farm, and though they didn’t have much, the family made ice cream every week--solidifying early a love language Charles shared with others throughout his life.
Charles graduated from Warsaw High School at just 16, and through a $75 Sears-Roebuck scholarship was able to attend the University of Missouri. In Columbia, he lived rent‐free in an unheated outbuilding on a chicken farm (on land that is now a University parking lot). He gathered eggs in the chicken coop for 30 cents an hour. Every week, he sent his laundry and a letter home to his mother.
One summer during college, Charles and a friend called on Wilma Pryor and her sister Ilene to ask them to the local fair. The Pryor sisters already had dates that evening, but Wilma posted a letter to Charles to ask him to call again next week. On their first date, they went fishing in the creek at the Pryor homeplace in Edwards; a rainstorm that day didn’t snuff their affection for each other and made for a good story. After that, Charles’ weekly letters home doubled--one for his mother and one for Wilma. Not one for overly flowery or romantic language, he once swapped the two letters, with hardly a notice from either recipient. Charles completed a BS in agriculture at MU in 1952, making him the first in his family with a college degree.
Charles proposed marriage by mail and sold a cow to pay for the wedding and honeymoon. He married Wilma, whom he’d first met in their one-room schoolhouse, on April 9, 1953 in the Edwards Church. Charles’ smile is a mile wide in every photo.
After graduation, he taught WWII veterans on-farm training through MU Extension until he was drafted. The couple moved to Virginia until Charles was deployed to Japan during the Korean War. There he taught Japanese and other skills to American soldiers and climbed to the top of Mount Fuji. One of the biggest regrets of his life was missing the birth of their first child Kent Campbell in 1954 during his deployment.
After his tour ended, Charles completed a Master’s in Education from Mizzou in 1955 through the GI Bill. Charles and Wilma moved to Ridgeway, MO where Charles taught vocational agriculture to the high school. Daughter Connie was born in Bethany in 1956. In 1957 Charles joined the University of Missouri Extension Service as Balanced Farming Agent in Linn County and then as Linn County Extension Director. Charles’ work took the family to Linneus in 1957, and daughter Carol was born in Brookfield in 1959. Charles and Wilma moved to Stillwater, OK in 1966, where Charles completed his PhD in Higher Education Administration. A powerhouse duo, Charles completed his PhD with Wilma by his side in just one year.
In 1967, the family moved to Rolla, MO where Charles took a job in the central Office of Extension for the University of Missouri as South Central District Extension Director. The couple built a home near Lecoma, MO and raised angus cattle on their Phelps County farm. Charles’ work as a leader in extension garnered them friends in every county.
In 1977, Charles and Wilma moved to Columbia when the Extension office moved to MU’s main campus; Charles served in various capacities including as Consultant to the Vice President for Extension and ten years as Assistant Dean for Extension and Assistant Director of Research in CAFNR. In 1988 Charles was asked to assume leadership for MU for a USAID Project in Swakoko, Liberia. There they met Nat Tulay, who became a dear family member. Following a rebel invasion in late 1990 and a harrowing moment where Charles was kidnapped and carjacked at gunpoint, they escaped with a briefcase. Soon after, they moved to Nairobi, Kenya where Charles assumed major responsibility for a $27 million development project with the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute. The Institute is now considered the premier research institute in all of East and Central Africa. A special highlight of the Campbells’ time in Kenya was hosting granddaughter Heather for a summer stay.
Charles and Wilma made the most of Charles’ retirement from MU Extension in 1997, crisscrossing North America by van and RV, staying involved at Missouri United Methodist, making gallons of homemade ice cream, growing a massive vegetable garden, stoking the homefire, and hosting magical Christmases their grandchildren cherish. Charles was known to hop on inflated innertubes in the snow, even when his grandkids weren’t visiting. His weekly visits with granddaughter Laural were a favorite part of his retirement routine.
Devoted to MU their whole lives, Charles and Wilma remained involved at Missouri United Methodist, members of the Jefferson Club, Senior Teacher Education Partnership Program and founded a scholarship fund in their name to support working students in CAFNR. Charles also conducted key early fundraising to bring the Life Sciences Building to fruition. Investing in Mizzou students brought the Campbells so much joy. Charles was especially proud that three generations of his family are Mizzou graduates.
Charles and Wilma moved to Provision (now Cedarhurst) Living in 2015, where they continued to frequently host guests and family gatherings, including a graduation party for grandson John and wedding reception for granddaughter Annie.
Charles is survived by his children: Kent Campbell (Ginger Koziatek), Connie Green (Mark), Carol Hildebrandt (Wm. Gerard); grand-children: Heather Green Jennings (Darren), Laural Green, Annie Hildebrandt (Tim Fetter), John Hildebrandt; and great-grandchildren: Henry and John Jennings. Charles and Wilma drew their circle of family wide, compounding their blessings and holding many loved ones close. Most especially Nat Tulay (Petronella Mwango), Barbara Marah (Ronnie), TNisha Andino, Natkita Bunch Tulay, Norma Phiri, Pfewana Tulay, Kendrick Marah and Peyton Marah. Charles was preceded in death by his wife of 66 years, Wilma Pryor Campbell, in 2019; his parents John and Jewell Campbell; his brother Warren Campbell (Ida Mae); and an infant sister.
Charles will be remembered for many things: As an early riser, doing a crossword or taking a long walk. As a ruthless card and domino player, bridge partner, hunter, fisherman, and handyman. As a man “thrice-warmed” by chopping, splitting, and burning his own wood. As an advocate for others, who ably demonstrated forgiveness and reconciliation and the great lengths he’d go for the people he loved. As someone who never met a stranger--no matter where he lived--nor a baby he couldn’t soothe. As a beloved father and father-in-law and doting papa and great-grandpa, Uncle Charlie and friend to many. And as a devoted husband in a true lifelong partnership, whose small town beginnings did not hinder his adventurous spirit across the world. As the familial guidepost and moral compass, teaching his children and grandchildren how to move through the world and live their values.
Of their young married years, Charles and Wilma said, “There was nothing too small to celebrate and nothing too big to take on.” Their whole lives, they lived modestly while loving and celebrating others with a ferocity and generosity that will be long treasured.
Charles suffered from dementia and Alzheimer’s in his final years but continued to face his days with a posture of gratitude. Countless times, he said, “I’ve had a good life. I have the best family. I am so lucky. I love you.” Charles’ family and caretakers draw immeasurable solace from the knowledge that he knew how much he was loved till the end.
Charles leaves a massive absence in his wake, but his children continue to live by his example, and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren rest easy in the knowledge that each was his favorite.
Visitation will be held on Friday, October 22 at 2 pm at Memorial Funeral Home in Columbia. Services will follow at 3 pm. Masks are required.
Burial will be held at Fristoe Cemetery in Fristoe, MO on Saturday, October 23 at 11 am.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials be made to the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America.
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
Memorial Funeral Home
Memorial Funeral Home
Fristoe CemeteryDirections to the cemetery can be found using the following link: https://www.google.com/maps/place/Fristoe+Missionary+Baptist+Churchemail@example.com,-93.2773703,17.25z/data=!4m13!1m7!3m6!1s0x87c44543b59197c3:0x64b071c1bc1f0292!2sFristoe,+MO+65355!3b1!8m2!3d38.1166956!4d-93.2757556!3m4!1s0x87c4455c2b3a32a9:0xb2ac313f34097db1!8m2!3d38.1075698!4d-93.2755486
Charles Eugene Campbell
Linda Jo Turner
October 13, 2021
I loved and valued Dr. Campbell for his kindness, generosity and vision. It was an honor to work with him and call him colleague and friend. I am sending my condolences and prayers to all the family. His life was truly a gift to all of us!