T.W. Curry Parkview Chapel

755 George Street, Sydney, NS


Catherine Mary Anne Campbell

July 26, 1965September 1, 2019
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Catherine Mary Anne Campbell, who died Sunday at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital surrounded by family and friends, was born (July 26, 1965) and raised in Sydney but her roots (and heart) were in Irish Cove where her ancestors – on both sides of the family – had had the good sense to settle 150 years earlier.

Catherine was the daughter of Stanley and Margaret (Cash) Campbell, loving and supportive parents who were extremely proud of their daughter.

Catherine had one official sibling, her much loved brother Tom, and an impressive list of cousins (including Steven Cash and Jennifer, Peter, Mary, Susan, Archie and Flora Campbell) and at least one childhood friend (Patricia Murphy) with a claim to something close to sibling status.

Catherine was a born reader, a trait she may have owed to her maternal grandmother, Mary (Boyle) Cash (who shared her love of the Bookmobile) and that not only served her but shaped her. Educated at St. Joseph’s Elementary School, Sheriff Junior High and Holy Angels High School, she always excelled academically, but it was in the Foundation Year Program at the University of King’s College that she truly came into her own as a scholar.

Her love of language extended beyond her native tongue to French and – most significantly – Japanese, as a decision in the early ‘90s to teach English in Japan led to a 20-year residence in that country and fluency in its language. But it also led to her involvement with the Tozen Union (which she was instrumental in organizing), her three-year presidency of the Berlitz General Union Tokyo, her participation in campaigns for better pay and working conditions and her unforgettable appearance, on the roof of a van, holding a megaphone and calling out the management of an international language school – in Japanese – for its unfair labor practices. Her activism was not without family precedent: her grand uncle, Fr. Tom Boyle, was a union organizer and author of a book she treasured, Justice Through Power.

A cancer diagnosis brought her home to Cape Breton, and while she missed her friends and colleagues and fast-paced Tokyo lifestyle, she maintained her ties to Japan through her work as a translator and set about building a life that exploited every good thing Sydney had to offer: libraries, book clubs, farmers’ markets, live music, theater, lectures, restaurants, craft beer, cats. It helped that her partner, Ken Jessome, was a playwright (and reader in his own right) well connected to the local arts scene. One of her last big undertakings, in which she took great pride, was her role stage managing his plays.

If she had a favorite role, though, it may well have been that of “Aunt Catherine” to Angus (who shared her love of reading), Maggie (her “mini-me”) and Juliette (her fellow cat enthusiast). Catherine enjoyed their company immensely and marveled at their many and varied achievements, from Angus’ piping, to Maggie’s hockey playing to Juliette’s acting.

A twist of fate brought her into contact with another group of children – the Hamadis, a Syrian family newly arrived in Cape Breton – to whom she taught English. It would be hard to exaggerate the happiness this brought her.

It would also be hard to exaggerate the strength she displayed in the face of her illness, which affected but never defined her. Her rallying cry -- ‘Ganbatte!’ Japanese for ‘persevere’ – was a phrase of encouragement shouted from the summit of Mount Fuji to struggling climbers. Catherine’s perseverance, through breakthroughs and setbacks, was astonishing to behold and seemed to consist in an ability to focus her being (and smile) on everything that was good and beautiful in her world while accepting, without complaint, everything that was not.

She found joy in books, in food, in music and in the natural world but she found it chiefly in people. She had a genius for friendship that allowed her to remain close, not only to friends from Japan (like Louis Carlet, Hifoumi Okunuki, Hiromi Kotaro, Kazuko Kizawa and Nancye and Andy Miles-Tweedie), but to friends from junior high (Delly Keen, Theresa Andrews and Barbara McCarthy) and friends from her first year at King’s (particularly Susan Dodd and Rachel Haliburton). Everyone who had the privilege of knowing her will tell you that she was never – even in this last year, as her illness closed in on her – anything less than wonderful company.

The apartment she occupied in summer in Irish Cove – formerly that of her beloved Aunt Liz (Elizabeth MacNeil) – was always the center of the social universe but never more so than this last summer as, less able to get out and about in the world herself, she simply opened her door and let the world come to her. Everyone fetched up in Catherine’s place eventually and laughter, inevitably, ensued. She will be deeply and dearly missed by all, but particularly by those – like Kevin Corbett and many of the friends and family members mentioned previously – who were regulars at “the bunker.”

Catherine is survived by her loving partner, Ken Jessome; her parents, Stanley and Margaret Campbell; her brother Tom Campbell, sister-in-law Pam (Fortin) Campbell, nephew Angus, nieces Maggie and Juliette; and uncles, aunts, cousins, friends and colleagues too numerous to mention.

Visitation will be on Thursday, September 5, from 6 PM to 9 PM at T.W. Curry’s Funeral Home in Sydney with funeral mass on Friday, September 6, at 11 AM at Sacred Heart Church in Johnstown.

Sincere thanks to Dr. Ron MacCormick, Dr. Mary Anne Campbell, Tom MacNeil, the VON and the wonderful staff of the Cancer Centre, the Chemo Unit, the ER, the 4th floor and the An Cala unit of the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation Cancer Patient Care Fund.


  • Ken Jessome, Loving Partner
  • Stanley Campbell, Father
  • Margaret (Cash) Campbell, Mother
  • Tom Campbell, Brother
  • Pam (Fortin) Campbell, Sister-in-law
  • Angus Campbell, Nephew
  • Maggie Campbell, Niece
  • Juliette Campbell, Niece
  • Steven Cash, Cousin
  • Jennifer Campbell, Cousin
  • Peter Campbell, Cousin
  • Mary Campbell, Cousin
  • Susan Campbell, Cousin
  • Archie Campbell, Cousin
  • Flora Campbell, Cousin
  • Patricia Murphy, Childhood Friend
  • Catherine is also survived by uncles, aunts, cousins, friends and colleagues too numerous to mention.


  • Visitation Thursday, September 5, 2019
  • Funeral Mass Friday, September 6, 2019


Catherine Mary Anne Campbell

have a memory or condolence to add?

Pauline Liengme

September 10, 2019

Dear Ken:
You and I met this past year at C for C but Catherine and I met a couple of years ago and I was drawn to her because she wore a hat rather than , as I did, a wig to cover her hair loss as we were in treatment. What a brave thing to do - and one that I could never do! This year I particularly remember the affection between you and Catherine and I felt so pleased that she had such support. She was such a delightful and strong woman and C for C will miss her input and charm God bless you as you mourn your loss.

John Browning

September 8, 2019

When Catherine road in the Van and spoke we nicknamed it "Bell on Wheels"

John Browning

September 8, 2019

Catherine and I in 2008

John Browning

September 8, 2019

Terry & Mary Mc Namara

September 7, 2019

Our Heartfelt Sympathy is extended to you Stan, Marg, and Tom on the passing of your precious daughter and sister Catherine. May she RIP

John Browning

September 6, 2019

To the family of Catherine,

Thank you for bringing your precious daughter and sister into the world and sharing her with us here in Japan for a while. I met Catherine in 1998 at a teachers' union activity. At that time I was serving as a Vice President in BEGUNTO. She went on to serve us well in many capacities for a decade and beyond.
As a father with two young daughters it pains me to think of how it must feel to see your daughter depart ahead of you to that destination that we are all bound for, but know that she touched and had a positive effect on literally hundreds of lives here in Japan. Her legacy lives on in works and agreements that she negotiated and signed with our company.
Catherine was quite a lady filled with integrity and determination. Her memory will remain with me and she will serve as an example for my daughters for her determination to serve others.
I pray that you will find some solace in knowing that she touched and uplifted so many people in her days here.

May you go forward with warmth and peace in your heart and may your burden of grief be eased through divine grace.

God Bless,

John B. Browning

Adine Boutilier

September 6, 2019

Saddened to learn of Catherine’s passing.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Rod and Val MacDonald

September 6, 2019

Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Darlene Mullowney (MacNeil)

September 6, 2019

My condolences to Catherine's family. I attended school with Catherine from elementary to high school and always enjoyed her company. She was extremely intelligent, and wise beyond her years. I lost touch with her after high school as we both went off to university, however, I never failed to ask friends from home about her and other school friends. I fondly remember classes at Holy Angels with Catherine, Mary and Barb and our lunch time gatherings in one of the open classrooms. We all knew Catherine would go on to do great things and this beautiful tribute has given me a glimpse into her wonderful life. Thank you for sharing these memories!

David MacLeod

September 5, 2019

One of the best periods of my life was hanging out in Toronto with what I refer to the Toronto Gang; Tom, Mary, Susan, Kevin, and of course, Catherine. I’ll miss her dearly.

Dave M