by Jane Moneypenny
It’s always heartbreaking when you hear that someone has died that used to be such a big part of your life. The memories flood back and it’s as if the decades that the person wasn’t in your life never happened.
Last week, I found out my grammar school (K-8) principal passed away at the young age of 61. To most, a principal passing is a fleeting moment of sadness, but to my childhood and the community, it’s devastating. At our Catholic school of 600, he knew every student’s name and the parents. When parents would pull up to drop off their kids, he stood there opening each car door every morning and giving the girls a tug on their ponytail. He was a very tall man and at the age of 5, he loomed like a giant among us. By the time I graduated at 14, he was still giant and will forever remain that way in my memories.
He was a jokster, going class to class to interrupt and shake things up. In 7th grade, I was a page turner for the piano player in the school play (I didn’t make the play and I was the only kid that could read music). From that point on, every time he saw me, he would lick his finger and flip an imaginary page. For the last few years, my locker was outside his office giving him the chance to holler my name loudly so the entire hallway would stop and look. He had that finger whistle that could silence an entire yard full of screaming kids and a special wave with his hand under his chin that would make you feel special.
He was adored by the students, loved by the teachers and respected by the parents. I wish I had known he was sick; I wish I had seen his email address sooner; I wish I could thank him for watching out for a shy kid like me.
Rest in peace, Mr. Campbell. You were a great man, a great friend and a rare amazing educator. We were all lucky and blessed to have had you in our lives.