IN APPRECIATION • Joe Campbell Sr.
Editor’s Note: “Voice of Oneonta” Joseph P. Campbell’s son, Joe Jr., eulogized his father at a memorial service Saturday, July 27, at the Oneonta Elks Lodge. This is an excerpt.
By JOE CAMPBELL, Jr. • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
Dad absolutely loved teaching, coaching, and radio broadcasting.
- “Mr. C.” taught for 38 years, mostly in sixth grade at the Greater Plains Elementary School. Dad had the exquisite gift of making lifelong personal connections with each of his students by building on their interests. Many of those students are here with us today and kept in contact with Mr. C. through cards and phone calls. Dad loved this recognition, referring to teaching as the most rewarding career.
Mr. C.’s innovative use of puppets, song, and radio-drama production, including sound effects, made creative writing, social studies, and math come alive in his classroom by delighting students. Additionally he had corners in his classroom for poetry, weight lifting, and radio. Dad frequently said he was grateful to teach back in the day when teachers had more freedom. At home, dad connected with me by bringing his sixth-grade circuit box home when I was in kindergarten and that set me on my path to MIT.
When Mr. C. retired from teaching in 1991, he asked himself, “What have I done?!” and started volunteering within the district. He continued his passion by teaching adults with Joe Fioravanti and Chuck Burnsworth at Oneonta State and Hartwick College.
- “Coach Campbell” loved coaching football, basketball, and baseball. He was a pioneer in weight training, when it was considered taboo, and won the Mr. Catskill bodybuilding title. He coached my brother to a national bodybuilding championship.
Dad was an avid boxer, back when it was the #2 sport in America after baseball, and trained under his mentor, Carl Delberta, a gold medalist, a professional boxer, and the founder of the Oneonta Boys & Girls Club.
His friend and training partner, Private Harry Georgeson (The Golden Greek), gave Dad his boxing gloves when Dad went to fight in World War II; Dad promised he would keep training and went on to box in the Army.
At OHS, he coached football for many years and enjoyed taking the team out on “fun runs” – he was in excellent shape, they barely kept up with him when he was three times their age, although he wasn’t wearing heavy football pads!
- “The Grand Old Man of Radio” had an incredible 50 years on the air on WDOS Radio, 1952-2002, with his radio program, “The Sentimental Journey.” This was the longest-running radio program in Central New York, in which he kept Big Band music alive in Otsego County and beyond.