PORT ANGELES — Mourners shared their memories of civic leader Orville Campbell during a service on Tuesday, describing him as a friend and a statesman, with a belief in hard work and great dedication to his community.
Campbell, 97, died on July 2 due to complications of the COVID-19 virus. He was a former Port Angeles City Council member and deputy mayor who served on a variety of boards after retirement from Crown Zellerbach.
A burial service conducted at Ocean View Cemetery on Tuesday morning was followed by a memorial ceremony at the Vern Burton Community Center attended by more than 50 people.
“Orville to me was not just (an extended) family member, he was a community member in a big way,” said Mike Baylor, one of the many who spoke about their interactions with Campbell during the memorial service.
“He’ll be sadly missed around this community,” Baylor said. “He was a very special person in this community.”
Attendees repeated many of the same words and themes about Campbell in their speeches — including his love for Beefeaters gin. Campbell was repeatedly described as a gentleman.
“He never missed an opportunity to say to my brother and I and my mother, ‘You’re a good true friend. I love you,’” said James Campbell, Orville’s eldest son.
Campbell was born in Ocean Falls, B.C., but his family soon relocated to Port Townsend, where he spent most of his youth.
In 1944, just before he graduated from high school, Campbell joined the U.S. Army Air Corps — the precursor to the Air Force — and spent his service installing and repairing radios on P-38 Lightning aircraft.
Following the war, he pursued a career as an electrical engineer, graduating from Washington State College — now Washington State University — and taking a job with Crown Zellerbach pulp and paper company, where he eventually worked in administration.
Campbell was most remembered for his dedication to public service, both pursuing economic development and working on environmental issues.
He was deeply involved in the effort to remove the Elwha River dams and chaired Harbor-Works Public Development Agency, formed in 2008 to expedite the environmental cleanup of the Rayonier pulp mill waterfront property after it had closed 1997 so that the land could be redeveloped. Rayoner eventually bowed out of cooperating with the PDA.
He served on the Port Angeles Planning Commission, co-founded the North Olympic Land Trust and served on the boards of the Port Angeles Business Association and Feiro Marine Life Center.
City Manager Nathan West said Campbell’s influence could still be seen in Port Angeles’ many institutions.
“Orville gave endlessly to the betterment of this community,” West said. “Everything he did was about bringing people together.
“It would take me a really long time to research every stakeholder group he participated in.”
Campbell was deeply involved in establishing the First Step Family Support Center, serving on the board for 25 years. In 2021, the organization renamed one of its buildings the Orville Campbell House.
“He was my mentor, my educator, but most of all he was my friend,” said Nita Lynn, First Step’s executive director emeritus.
“He would tell me many stories, explain to me how things work. Orville was instrumental in building First Step. That wouldn’t have happened without him.”
There was never a time in his life that Campbell wasn’t working or looking for a job, said his son James, adding that this stemmed from his experiences growing up during the Great Depression.
“All my father’s years, his outlook on life was that hard work and education would take you a long way, but never would he say that anyone could become a success on their own,” James Campbell said.
“Everyone he knew who was a success had help, and he wanted to be the person to provide that.”
James Campbell and many others said that Orville Campbell strove to be a positive influence, bring people together and find mutually beneficial solutions to community problems.
“Orville loved this place, loved this community,” said Kevin Yancy of Port Angeles.
“I think his dying wish would be that this community get together and continue to make it a better place.
“We have a lot of work to do and the best way we can honor Orville is to continue to press forward.”
Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at email@example.com.