Ken Campbell, of Stockbridge, died in the early hours of Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012, just one day after he turned 81. His passing followed ten recent months of health challenges, which he faced with determination, grace, dignity, and a sense of humor.
Born and raised in Greenville, S.C., in 1931, Ken was descended from Thomas Campbell, Sr., (1715-1788) and Joshua Jones (1753-1839). He was preceded in death by his parents, Junius K. and Irene Jones Campbel; his elder brother, William W. Campbell, and his beloved daughter, Carolyn Ann (Tilly) Campbell.
After graduating from Parker High School in 1949, he married his sweetheart, Evelyn Peace. Ken joined the U.S. Air Force and served during the Korean War. He was awarded the Korean War Medal bestowed by the government of Korea for outstanding service. As a radio operator on C-124 Transports (the Bully Beef Express 6th Troop Carrier Squadron), he traveled the entire world in his 10-year military career, visiting every country except those under communist rule. He served as a radio instructor at Keesler Field in Biloxi, Miss., prior to, and immediately after, his service in Korea. At the time of his discharge, he and his growing family of three girls were based in Greenville, where he went into business for himself.
He was soon recruited by the Federal Aviation Administration and enjoyed a 20-year career as an Air Traffic Controller, based at the AT Center in Hampton, Ga. He served as president of PATCO (Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization) and worked for improved air safety, and to raise the standards of air traffic control. While still with the FAA, he became Executive Director of the Jonesboro Housing Authority in 1969, a position he held for 27 years until his retirement in 1996.
An inveterate sports fan, Ken closely followed college and professional basketball and football. He was a Braves fan through thick and thin. While on a trip to the UK with Evelyn and their friends, Sara and John and Harold and Jerry, he realized every avid golfer’s dream of playing at the Old Course at St. Andrews. Finishing his round, he recreated his idol’s –– Arnold Palmer’s –– famous wave from the arched bridge.
His Air Force days prompted him to get his private pilot’s license and he flew his own planes for fun and as a business. In recent years, he added horse racing to his favorite pastimes when his daughter, Debbie and her husband, Jim Miller, began to successfully race their horses on the throughbred circuit.
Ken’s greatest joy was his family and having them around him at his beloved farm near Hollandville, Ga. At any given time, the house overflowed with his children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters and their families, plus all the friends who were always welcomed into the celebrations. Evelyn recalls Ken saying many years ago that “when you’re sitting on the porch in your rocker recalling your life, it won’t be what you had or did that counts most, but what your children and their children have become.”
Ken is survived by his wife of 62 years, Evelyn Peace Campbell; daughter, Debbie Miller, her husband, Jim, grandson Jason Timbert, and his wife, Kristi; granddaughter, Jessica Timbert Riley, her husband, John, and children, John Davis and Campbell Kate; daughter Lori June Harrington, and grandson, K.C. (Kenneth Charles), granddaughter, Kristen; and great-grandsons, Caleb and Carter; sister Carolyn Campbell Batson, of Greenville, S.C., and her husband, Don R. Batson, her children and their spouses; sons, Kyle and wife, Cindy Batson, Kevin and wife,Teresa Batson, and daughter, Kelley Batson Addison, and her husband, Jeff; brother, Jim Campbell, and his wife, Jean, of Knoxville, Tenn., and their daughters, Ryan Campbell and Emily Campbell Taube; sister-in-law, Jackie Peace, her daughter, Patricia Lowry, and granddaughter, Laura, son, Gene Peace, son, Dennis Peace and his daughter, Raven, and Raven’s mother, Veronica.
Ken’s family is grateful for the loving care provided him over the past months, particularly by caregivers Edris Peterkin, Norma McClarin, Carmeta Gibson, Marcia Plummer and Vivan McCarthy.
Ken led an exemplary life and set a high standard for himself. He was accepting and encouraging to those around him, and helped others achieve their goals and dreams. He maintained calm under pressure, was consistent, fair and compassionate, and was a steady, positive influence to his family and many friends.
Funeral services will be held Friday, Jan. 13, at 11 a.m., in the Chapel of Ford-Stewart Funeral Home, with the Rev. Kyle Batson and the Rev. Kevin Batson officiating. Entombment will be at Camp Memorial Park. The family will receive friends Thursday, Jan. 12, from 6 p.m., to 8 p.m., at the funeral home. Ford-Stewart Funeral Home, Inc. Jonesboro/Stockbridge, is in charge of arrangements, (770) 210-2700, www.fordstewartfuneralhome.com.