John R. Campbell

-- A Personal Tribute by Bill Fisher

[Clan Campbell Crest] Clan Campbell Crest
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Herewith follows the text of Bill Fisher's eulogy (Memorial Service) on Feb. 11. He has consented to its use provided we make no changes in spelling, grammar, sentence structure, etc. etc.
[Shirley Campbell]


We are gathered here this morning to remember and to pay tribute to John Robert Campbell: Husband, Father and Friend. John was born in Georgetown, British Guiana, on 4th June 1935 (he was a week to the day younger than I) and passed away in Halifax on Friday 7th February 1997.

When I think of John Campbell I think of one of my very closest friends. He was my mentor as we shared so many things over the years: large and small, humorous and serious. We spoke on the phone nearly every day. He would ring me at 5:50 each morning and I would utter a few sleepy replies, and he would say 'Go back to sleep,' which I usually did! Often later on in the morning he would ring again or I would phone him and we would talk about news items or letters to the editor of the newspaper. As he was an active Tory and my political point of view is somewhat opposite there would often be some lively discussions!

His sense of hunour was profound, and he loved to torment anyone he could get a rise out of, particularly Maryam. He always made little jokes of everything which I feel hid a more serious side, and was a facade to cover his own feelings about people and things. He had a deep affection for his family which he usually hid under a banter of bluster and torment. From his friends he also hid his affections for the most part, though one would know from little comments made from time to time that he deeply cared.

John was a very private person, and one did not question him on very personal matters. He was somewhat secretive about his father and other close family. He did not like to discuss his health problems, which I ofter felt were serious and when I asked what he thought were too many questions about his health he would say 'None of your business!' When I told him that as a close friend I felt I had a right to know how he was, he did answer the question. Actually I think he was secretly pleased that his friends were concerned about him. I also feel he valued his family and friends far more than he was able to show.

A great thirst for knowledge made him acquire a large library of books, which he loved to discuss. He also enjoyed television, particularly programmes with an historical significance. Ofter he would come out to my home for an afternoon, and we would sit in the library, drink rum and listen to music and read. I don't think he was as fond of music, and that he sometimes tolerated rather than enjoyed my large collection of old recordings which Maryam loved!

Sometimes when he came to my place he would be joined later by Maryam, who would make supper for us. Sometimes too we would be joined by Vivian and Bob Purcell, other close friends. I think Vivian's conversations stimulated his interests in people and things, while Bob looked on benignly. Vivian and John also had long telephone conversations nearly every day and I know he valued her opinions about many things, particularly multi-cultural activities which also interested him. John was last to my home on Thursday afternoon - the day before he passed away - after he had had his last checkup with Dr. Hayes. He signed the guest book - in characteristic style. You can imagine how I treasure those memories.

When he first came to this country he served in the Royal Canadian Navy, both on the Lower Deck and as an Officer. He much enjoyed the comraderie and banter of the Navy and I think that in many ways the Navy shaped his views of the World. Later on he was in the North on the Dew Line and still later worked in the automotive industry. But I think he had been happiest in the Navy as he so ofter spoke of it and related to its terminology. I also think his naval experiences shaped his bluff relationships with his family and friends. He always enjoyed the banter of debate and teasing; but there was a serious side as well with serious views. Actually I often found his views similar to my own - after all we came from the same era!

John and Maryam recently had their 40th wedding anniversary. Though of different temperments, they had a very deep affection for one another. After they grew up the boys went off on their own, though kept in touch with their parents. However Fiona was in constant touch with her Dad and Mother. Though not of a demonstrative nature, John was very proud of his sons and their accomplishments and loved their wives. He was also fond of his son-in-law and pround of his two grandchildren.

One could not know John Campbell for very long without realizing his deep pride in matters Scottish, and particulatly those of Clan Campbel. As a sept of Clan Campbell, he liked to tell me that I am a Campbell on sufference! though I know he was proud of my connections with Clan Campbell as am I. He had two aunts in Shandon, near Helensburgh, just north of the Highland Line. One was his father's sister, his Aunt Elsie and the other was his Dad's brother Bert's widow, his Aunt Nell. On one of my trips to the Old Country, at Maryam's bidding I visited these two aunts, and have gone to see them ever since when over, and keep in touch with them. John never had the pleasure of meeting them personally, but Maryam has written to them over the years and they have spoken on the telephone. The Aunts were proud of John and loved hearing news about him and his family when I would visit. They were also delighted that he took such an interest in his Scottish background.

What can I say about John's immense contributions to Scottish culture in our Province? For years he was president of the Clan Campbell Society of Nova Scotia and for a time president of the Federation of Scottish Clans in Nova Scotia. He helped with the Metro Games put on by The Scots - The North British Society, and had belonged to that organization. He was also involved with other Scottish and other multi-cultural matters. He worked tirelessly for the Scottish cause in our Province, for which we owe him a debt of gratitude.

How can I sum up John? My life has been considerably enriched by his friendship, and his passing leaves a bigger gap than I can take in at the moment. He has left us some goals to accomplish. I am very thankful to have known him so well, and he leaves behind a the legacy of his family, who will, I know, continue to be close to me.

Thank you, John. "

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