El Cajon Mortuary and Cremation Service

684 South Mollison Ave., El Cajon, CA


Martin Lee Campbell

April 3, 1956May 26, 2020

Dr. Martin Lee Campbell Ph.D “Marty” 04/03/1956 – 05/26/2020 Our dear Marty – awesome husband, son, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin, and friend - passed away peacefully surrounded by family on 05/26/2020. Marty’s life was well lived. Born in Riverside, CA to Donald and Janet Campbell, Marty attended Riverside Polytechnic high school and University of California Irvine. He double majored at the university and earned two bachelor degrees in biology and chemistry. He later attended University of Texas where he earned his Ph.D.

Marty loved baseball and he loved the Houston Astros his entire life. He also enjoyed football very much and was a big Texans and Broncos fan. Marty loved swimming and he was like a fish in water. As a lifeguard he taught many children to swim. He also loved history, photography, reading, hiking, biking, fishing, camping, scuba diving, cross word puzzles, cards, and sailing. Marty was adventurous and mostly happy being known as funny with a dry sense of humor. When he turned 40 he flew a dogfight battle plane with Texas Air Aces. When he turned 50 he traveled to France in honor of his beloved Tour de France. When he turned 60 he traveled to Charleston South Carolina where he enjoyed the abundant amounts of historic venues.

Marty always had a beautiful, but sometimes mischievous, smile. Growing up he loved to visit the family cabin in Idyllwild and he experienced world travel in 1966 when the family took the opportunity to live in Iran for a year. Marty also encountered some outlandish situations while being adventurous. From being busted for fishing without a license, to a mattress flying off his car when moving, to his car catching on fire while driving. Ha! He had experiences that most of us will never encounter. …and Marty loved to eat. You’d never know it by the size of him, but he loved cheeseburgers, sausage, and Texas barbeque like no other. He had a passion for craft beer and ice cream and was always glad when his blood sugar was low so he could enjoy these items. In 1985 he had a research lab working for Johnson and Johnson where he met his future wife Shirlene Roberts. Shirlene knew Marty loved to sail so she bullied him in the hallway to take her sailing until one occasion when he finally gave in. After that sailing trip their relationship blossomed into years of love and they were married on May 18, 1991. …and as the mischievous person he was, he appeared at the wedding reception wearing Alfred E. Neuman ear covers just to watch the response of friends and family. Marty was a funny and loving and endearing companion to Shirlene for 35 years.

After an early successful career spanning several scientific research jobs, Marty decided to go to graduate school to obtain a Ph.D in biomedical sciences. He moved to Houston Texas where he attended the University of Texas Health Science Center. While attending, Marty was awarded the prestigious Rosalie B. Hite Fellowship for academic excellence. Marty obtained his Ph.D. under the supervision and mentorship of Dr. Ralph B. Arlinghaus. Together they strived to find the cause and a cure for Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. …a disease which took Dr. Arlinghaus’ first wife Barbara.

Upon his Ph.D graduation in 1992, Marty was invited to travel to Russia by colleagues there to study cancers in victims of the Chernobyl blast. Later in 1992 through 1995 Marty completed his Post Doc studies at University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. There he researched Prostate cancer and programmed cell death. In 1996 Marty was invited to join in studies at University of Houston researching ophthalmologic cell death.

Later in 1996 Marty returned to work at his beloved M.D. Anderson Cancer Center where he was offered an assistant professorship in the department of Molecular Pathology working with Dr. Arlinghaus once again. Marty was very happy in this position and worked hard. He loved the research very much and went on to earn an Associate Professor position developing targeted therapies for breast cancer. After his retirement from M.D. Anderson in 2008, Shirlene convinced him to move to Colorado where he returned to one of the loves of his life – teaching. He taught chemistry to many nursing students and in his time off he enjoyed the Colorado outdoors. Hiking, biking, fishing, and camping with his beloved dog Elijah once again.

Marty was a tough warrior whose life was often filled with undesirable experiences. When he was a teenager he was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. He was also a survivor of a terrible automobile accident in which he lost some friends. When he was in his early 60’s he cut off the tip of his middle finger and loved waving the bandage at people. Ha! He also a broke his clavicle and bragged about how much titanium was in his body. At age 61 he suffered another tragic accident wherein he incurred a traumatic brain injury and later broke his femur. In the last years of his life Marty was in and out of hospitals and rehabs for nearly three years but he fought long and hard to try and overcome these obstacles.

Marty is survived by his wife Shirlene Campbell and her family, his brothers Jim (Mary Ellen) Campbell, Ken (Maureen) Campbell, his sister Sue Campbell (Joe), cousins, nieces, and nephews. Marty loved the ocean and sailing with his best friend Chris. Per his request, he’ll be scattered at sea off Newport Beach at a later date to be determined. A celebration of his life will also be held at a later date. The family wishes to thank Dr. Michael Makley of Craig Hospital and all the doctors, nurses, and therapists who contributed to helping Marty gain a fair quality of life. Shirlene would also like to thank Brittney Herron for helping her care for Marty the past 1 ½ years.

If so inclined, please consider a donation to the M. D. Anderson Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Ralph B. Arlinghaus Scholarship Fund or a charity of your choice.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Martin Lee Campbell

have a memory or condolence to add?

Caryn Hernandez

June 5, 2020

I had the pleasure of meeting Marty and Shirlene at their home. I was Marty’s caregiver in Colorado. My best memory of Marty was his smile. Every morning when I would come in to greet him and let him know I was there, he would turn to look at me and smile. I knew if he started the day off with that, we would have a good day. Every time I play cards I think of Marty because he would always beat me at War! I now have a love of “avo” toast and White Castle cheeseburgers because those were some of his favorites. I will never forget how he liked to sit outside on his deck and enjoyed the Mountain View, the walks we would go on up and down his street, the puzzles he liked to put together and the days where he and I would watch travel shows, an Astros game or Wheel of fortune. Thank you Shirlene for sharing Marty with me. Thank you to your family who were always so nice and caring to me. Your Mom, your sisters, Brittney, thank you! I am so grateful to have had the pleasure of knowing Marty. He truly will be missed.
Love, Caryn

LaRea Herron

June 3, 2020

I have so many memories of Mart but two that stand out for me was the first time I met Marty in San Diego and he barbequed chicken for us. No one can barbeque chicken like Mart!! The second memory was when he took me to his lab at MD Anderson and tried to explain his job in molecular pathology, as if I knew what he was talking about 😊 Our inside joke for almost 30 years was him calling me “Squeaker” instead of LaRea because he said I always had such a high pitched voice when I get excited!! We will miss you. Rest in peace my dear Brother-in-Law.

Kelly Davila

June 3, 2020

To Shirlene and Marty - Come Monday. He will be missed. Love Kelly