Thaddeus Orlando Campbell
July 19, 1955 – November 24, 2019
Big, Bold and Beautiful The Life of Thaddeus Orlando Campbell
Thaddeus Orlando Campbell was born in Atlanta, Georgia on July 19, 1955. His brilliance was recognized by his teachers early in life and via grant or scholarship, he attended The Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut. Thaddeus completed his high school education in Atlanta at Harper High (go Jaguars!). He earned a full-ride, academic scholarship to Gustavus Adolphus College, a private college in St. Peter, Minnesota and he did some additional studies at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Thaddeus’s entered college as a pre-med student, but fell into computer hardware engineering via a program developed by Control Data Corporation in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He did extremely well with this opportunity, but after 11 years in the Midwest, he decided that he was through with winter weather. Thad decided he seek employment in a warmer climate.. His desire to move West was realized when he was recruited to be a software engineer at a start-up company in Santa Cruz, California. The year was 1984.
Thad fell in love with California in about 15 minutes. He honed his skills and, over the years, moved on up into the ranks of upper management in Silicon Valley. He seemed to easily achieve what every Silicon Valley worker would want and more. During his meteoric climb in “The Valley”, he aided two start-up companies to achieve financially rewarding Initial Public Offerings (IPO). His intelligence, charm, savvy and hard work rewarded him with the house of his dreams in The Evergreen Foothills of San Jose at age 35.
Although Thaddeus was doing quite well for himself, there was something that bothered him. It was not uncommon for Thad to relate experiences where, more often than not, he would be the only person of color in Silicon Valley upper management conferences. This was something he was determined or maybe destined to change.
Thaddeus last worked as a Senior Engineering Manager for Twitter in San Francisco, California and was proud to be working for such a dynamic and controversial platform. He considered what he saw by the company as a concerted effort to enhance diversity in the workforce as genuine. He eventually got involved in Twitter recruitment projects, including professionally produced videos and traveling with recruitment teams to historically black universities (HBUs). He enjoyed these opportunities immensely and felt a true bond with students he saw as younger versions of himself. After his passing was announced at Twitter, a series of “tweets” that included #WeLoveThad was so widely shared that this was the #1 trending concern in all of California.
Thaddeus was clearly driven to succeed, but this was not something that stained his personality. He was confident, but he hit zero on the arrogance scale. Thad was all about having fun, travelling, getting to know new people and enjoying life. If there was a place in this world that Thaddeus wanted to visit, he found a way to get there. His favorite city in all the world was Paris, France. He had studied French in school and after just a few days in that country what he had learned came flooding back. It was beautiful to behold.
Thaddeus was completely comfortable with social events. If he was attending an event where someone important was present, Thad would amble on up and make a new friend. Bill Clinton in a San Francisco restaurant would be an example. But his real talent was finding the more reserved people in a room and gently (well, usually gently) pulling them into participation. It was amazing to see the trust he could muster from people he had only known for a few minutes. You could say he was the best mentor a person could have for learning to live life to it’s fullest.
So then we get to Thad’s involvement with San Jose Pride (SJ Pride). Sorry, but it was a huge mess when he walked in the door as President. The organization was $60,000.00 in debt. Vendors that had previously provided services, such as perimeter fencing, furniture rentals and booths were reluctant to work again with the organization because in the recent past they had either been paid late, or not paid at all. Long story short – Thaddeus changed the name of the organization to Silicon Valley Pride so as to be more reflective of this lovely cluster of communities in the South Bay. He was determined to bring back the Pride parade, which he did masterfully. Over a period of six years, Thaddeus took a failure and turned it into a must-attend event. Thaddeus was very proud of the fact that Silicon Valley Pride now has operating capital. His supreme goal, however, was to make Silicon Valley Pride the “most high tech festival in the nation”. That is a challenge that remains for Silicon Valley Pride in the future.
Thaddeus had a wonderful home life. He and his devoted partner of almost 40 years, Kevin, lived together in Minneapolis, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Singapore and San Jose (in that order). Thaddeus loved attending to a virtual orchard of trees on almost one-third of an acre, including lemon, lime, grapefruit, orange, apple, cherry, avocado and plum trees. He was aided in these agricultural chores by a string of Cairn Terriers over the years. He leaves behind his favorite, Raven, his first brindle, which bears a striking resemblance to Toto from The Wizard of Oz.
Thaddeus was a master of the South Carolina method of smoking meats, which is fitting, since his ancestors migrated North from South Carolina to Atlanta. How many people own two Big Green Eggs? Thaddeus was legendary when it comes to baby back ribs. His soul food Thanksgiving meals were pure love (and seasoning!). And, oh yes, he talked smack about his ribs…because he damn well could!
Thaddeus was also a live jazz fanatic. He first attended the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1984 and then went every year except for the one year living in Singapore (1987) and the weekend he took possession of his dream home (1990). Thaddeus wore a distinctive African hat every year for the Monterey Jazz Festival that apparently pleased the crowd. Over the years, his appearance at the festival uplifted him to a celebrity status of ‘the guy with the hat’. This coming year, that hat will be placed on his empty chair to announce to those who remember him, his transcendence.
Thaddeus would like to acknowledge those beautiful people in his life that have allowed the love of his life to be less distracted by the earthly from the higher experiences of transition. Those people include his brother for life, Thomas Joubert and a host of angels in San Jose that include Scott Gallo and Joseph O’Hara; Scott Brown and Matthew Zamora; Fil Maresca; Tejinder and Marc Scheurer; Parbinder Dosamjh and Graham Hegler; Chris Mizera and David Erickson; Gustavo Chaverria; Hilario Hufana and Noel Stebnitz and Jeff Freitas.
If you love Thaddeus (who couldn’t?!) and would like to keep his spirit alive, consider contributing generously to these two non-profit groups that are all about creating career opportunities for some very deserving young people. We could all use more Big, Bold and Beautiful people
in our lives.
Black Girls Code www.blackgirlscode.com
No services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Thaddeus Orlando Campbell
December 7, 2019
You are loved, so so loved by everyone who has ever known you! I’m so grateful that Uncle Kevin brought you into our lives. I will always cherish the memories, the laughs and the many shots! Love you always Uncle Thad ❤️
December 6, 2019
I will miss my cousin Thad. We grew up together and had a great time growing up together. We laugh , talk to each other,We dance. we song together just had fun playing together and being at each other house.as kids.He was a beautiful person to be with I loved him very much. R.I.P Cous you will be missed
Robert (Ant) Campbell
December 6, 2019
Thank you for the challenging childhood good times in Blandtown and all the Mischief we got into as teenagers! I will really miss you Cuz! Love You
December 6, 2019
The world is a bit emptier knowing Thad is not here.
We didn’t see each other all that often over the past 30 years, but
somehow he was always able to lift me up as soon as I saw his face. He made me feel special and from what I read, he did that for everyone.
I am going to miss the Facebook postings that landed in my email that kept delivering the joy he seemed to bring to life and lives.
December 4, 2019
Thad was one of those people that when he walked in the room, he took everyone's breath away. He was "big" that way. His spirit was so kind, and rarely would anything get under his skin. I worked with him in the 1980's, and kept in touch via FB. Not a great way, I admit, but it was the only way. On FB, I got to see his happiness, his joy of life, and while we weren't close enough to be phone pals, we'd poke at each other every now and then. The world has lost one of life's best people - one of the good guys. I am so sorry for this loss, for Kevin, and for all the people whose lives he touched and inspired. He will be greatly missed.
December 3, 2019
My dear cousin, you were such a beacon of light who will be sorely missed. Love you forever......
Wayne and Shannon Andersen
November 29, 2019
It was our absolute honor to be able to call such an amazing person our friend. We will cherish our memories of spending time with Thad, when he and Kevin visited Iowa. We also had the incredible privilege to spend time with Thad and Kevin at their home in San Jose. We will miss you always, Thad.
November 29, 2019
Thad was the life of any place he walked into he had such a way with people. Everyone that meet Thad loved Thad. Thad you will be greatly missed and never forgotten!! Give my grand babies a hug and kiss from me. See you on the other side ❤️
IN THE CARE OF