OTEGO – Albert L. Camp, 89, a baseball, bowling and boxing standout who won the General Clinton Regatta and founded a bent-shaft paddle firm that had worldwide reach, passed away peacefully Sept. 8, 2018, with his wife, three sons and daughter by his side.
Al was affectionately known at Campy, Champ and Old Man of the River.
He was born Jan. 11, 1929, in Oneonta, the son of the late Harry and Margaruite (Kattanick) Camp.
Al started school in Maple Grove’s one-room schoolhouse, now at The Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown. He also attended school in Gilbertsville before moving to Otego, where he graduated.
In 1954, Al received a special invitation from the United States government to join the Army (drafted). He spent a year in Verdun, France, where he played baseball for the company team. When asked to play football, Al, at 5-foot-8, said, No, those guys are too big! Al was honorably discharged in 1956.
Al was always active in sports, playing baseball, basketball and six-man football for high school teams.He was one of Carl Delberta’s boxers in Oneonta for a couple of years. He participated in Otego town team basketball, Otego rifle club and Otego town team baseball, as a pitcher.
He was recruited by Dean Winsor to play baseball for the Milford MACS, where he was the only pitcher to win both pitching trophy and batting trophy in the same year.
Al was a passionate bowler. He was a Hall of Fame bowler in both Oneonta and Sidney. Al loved to practice, always trying to bowl better. Many times he bowled 12 to 15 games of practice. After he was 50, Al bowled in the PBA Seniors for many years, traveling from Florida to Texas to Canada. At 82, he won seniors in the prestige Lilac Tournament in Rochester. At 87, he was still bowling in league and practicing before his illness.
At 40, Al started canoe racing with a variety of partners. He won the General Clinton Canoe Regatta with Jim Root of Chenango Bridge. Al raced most weekends, many times racing in Quebec on Sunday then driving home to go to work Monday morning.
Al was an active 10k runner, running many local races. He ran his last Pit Run at 80.
Al worked for Lynn Coach in Oneonta, Scintilla in Sidney and Raymond Corp. in Greene. He was manager of Holiday Lanes Bowling Alley in Oneonta before starting his own business making canoes and bent-shaft canoe paddles, selling them all over the U.S. and many countries including Hawaii, Germany, Canada and Australia. Al and his wife, Joan had the business for more than 25 years. Camp Paddles was the largest manufacturer of bent shaft paddles in the world.
fter he retired, Al made exercise equipment and handcrafted wooden spoons.
Al was most proud of his family, his wife of 68 years, Joan; his sons, Wayne (Joanne), Rodney (Lisa) and Darryl (Christy), and daughter Denise (Kevin) Herrick; nine grandchildren, Erika, Allison, Meagan, Chelsea, Taylor, Dianna, Brandon, Brittney and Mallory; five great-grandchildren; one sister, Anna LeVeille; as well as several nieces and nephews.
Al spent many hours following his family’s sports activities, including dance, gymnastics, basketball, soccer, volleyball and track.
He was a member of the Oneonta Eagles, Kiwanis, the American Legion and also a longtime member of the Otego Fire Department and charter member of the Otego Emergency Squad.
If you have the chance to read “Johnathon Livingston Seagull,” a children’s book and “The Little Engine that Could,” that will tell you how he lived his life. Always striving to do better.
Calling hours will be 5:30 to 7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 10, at the Lester R. Grummons Funeral Home, 14 Grand St., Oneonta. Immediately following there will be a celebration of life service with the Rev. Richard Breuninger officiating.
Online condolences may be made at www.grummonsfuneralhome.com.
Al loved to toot his car horn. So when you are out and about, give your car horn a toot in memory of Al.
Arrangements are by the Lester R. Grummons Funeral Home, Oneonta.