In the fervent action of the duties of a community newspaper editor last week, I allowed my thoughts to travel to a dear friend, his difficult journey and the memories we shared.
Taking the most difficult of paths, I hadn’t heard anything of my friend in some time so I said a quick prayer, recalled one of the many humorous conversations we shared about hockey and grandchildren and life in Prince Edward County and moved on with the day.
On Saturday, our community was dealt a blow we knew was coming.
Mark Campbell, or Soupy to just about anyone who knew him longer than five minutes, passed away after a courageous battle with cancer.
To encapsulate the enterity of Mark Campbell’s roles in this community in such a limited space would be impossible no matter how small I shrunk the text-by the way, a topic of debate he and I shared in a number of times at his optician’s office-but here are a few as I know and experienced them.
First off, Mark Campbell was a boss.
For so many coming-of-age youth, Mark Campbell was the first person of authority they would have worked under at the Canadian Tire store in Picton and what a benefit to work with someone that exuded such class and dedication.
Later in life, he was an optician and I know first hand the type of caring, concern and pride he took in making sure those that required eyesight assistance had just the right set of glasses and frames and there’s more to be said about that role later.
He was a good and dear friend during his high school days at PECI and those connections and relationships lasted no matter how far the four winds might have scattered his many circles of friends.
This corner will never forget the admirable job Mark did when he helped enshrine his good friend, the late Paul Minaker, into the Prince Edward County Sports Hall of Fame. It was evident that day Mark cared about each and every single person that passed through his life with a seldom seen devotion to the point where he would be able to speak eloquently at any type of function or ceremony about a friend and leave the listener’s heart full.
For many, Mark was the voice of Friday afternoon on County 99.3 FM and his love, knowledge of and eclectic taste in popular music that spanned many decades most certainly grabbed any listener’s ear.
Mark Campbell was a dear companion to Heather.
I reach back to days long ago when trying to lob a softball onto a piece of rubber was my summertime pursuit and I had the privilege of playing mixed slow pitch with his daughter Billi. Almost without fail, Mark and Heather would turn up at the ball game, occasionally riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle.
I remember watching Mark and Heather as well as the late Sandy and Terry Rutherford interact with their adult children, share in the laughs and cheers of summertime recreation and admiring them so much for the shared love and full life they lived every day.
They might have been there to support their children but the example of ‘living happily ever after’ wasn’t lost on me and others.
Mark Campbell was a wonderful parent to Scott and Billi.
This is prehaps the easiest part of this week’s message. What else can be said about a man who loves his daughter so much that he leaves retirement to go into business with her? And loves his son so much that he will follow him all over North America chasing a professional hockey dream?
Mark Campbell was a friend, confidant, companion, parent, grandparent, business owner, community leader and host of many things to many people in Prince Edward County.
His legacy in this community will endure.