May 18, 2012

James Jacob Campbell, 94

James Jacob Campbell died April 30 in Visalia, Calif.  He had recently celebrated his 94th Birthday.  He is survived by his wife of 71 years, Eleanor.

Campbell had an exciting and rewarding life with a very humble start, outliving most of his peers, yet never at a loss for friends.  His family (plus extended family of nieces and nephews) and the happiness of Eleanor were his top priorities—he succeeded on all counts.

Campbell grew up during the Great Depression and learned the value of family, honesty, a job, hard work, a place to live, food to eat and education.  No visitor to his home ever left hungry.  In fact, many left with their bellies full of ice cream after Jim encouraged them to join him for a bowl. Though, truthfully, Jim’s love of ice cream was never limited to a single bowl—it was a treat he savored.  He attended more than six schools in six different towns and two states as he and his dad prospected for gold, homesteaded and ranched.  He graduated from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. Where he met and married Eleanor.  He held a degree in physics.

His first job was with the Navy in San Francisco where he degaussed ships.  He was interviewed by a China Lake recruiter and accepted a job in what was a remote and fast growing community of engineers and scientists dedicated to reversing the technology deficit the United States had experienced during WWII.

Campbell became a member of the elite group of pioneers at the China Lake Naval Ordnance Test Station, now the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, where he worked from 1946 to 1974 as a manager on the ranges and in the test department.

Campbell retired to Kernville where he and Eleanor enjoyed a fruitful retirement and were very active as volunteers in several organizations—including the Kern Valley Historical Society and the Death Valley 49ers.

His survivors include:

Daughter Julie,  her husband Cecil Hawkins and their four children; Wendy, Brad, Nic and Adam as well as their spouses and children.

Son Robert, his wife Alice and their two children ; Holly, Heather and their husbands and children.

His daughter Susan, who died of Multiple Sclerosis in 1996, preceded him in death.

For those desiring to make donations in Jim’s memory, please consider Kern Valley Historical Society, P.O. Box 651, Kernville, CA 93238, or the China Lake Museum Foundation, P.O. Box 217, Ridgecrest, CA 93556.  Both of these organizations were high on his list of favorite charities.

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