We had to say bye to a friend last week. John Campbell, a former Prince Howard neighbor, passed away recently. For those who knew him, you know he was a character.
Jo, John’s wife, called to inform me and share her grief about the loss of John, and asked me if I would say a few words. A reasonable person would question what she was thinking asking me to share my thoughts. Apparently, grief can rob you of judgment.
We, along with other Prince Howard neighbors, Kyle, Cherie and James, travelled down to Florida for the service. Since it was a formal military service at Jacksonville National Cemetery (John was a 20-year Navy veteran), I did not feel it appropriate to share my thoughts at that service. I have since shared these words with Jo over dinner.
Below are the thoughts I shared with Jo, as well as a few photos (thank you neighbors) from over the years…
As former next-door neighbors, we had the opportunity to see John in full splendor. I mean, no one knows a neighbor like a neighbor, and we saw John fulfill multiple roles.
Customer. If you were a provider to John… say phone company, internet provider, power company… or just about any other organization that John received services from – well, let me just say, I am so sorry. He could be a stern taskmaster.
Driver. John, a Naval Petty Officer, was also a truck driver in his career. Which makes it more ironic that one individual could be so spatially disadvantaged later in life. Backing up his truck, his utility trailer, or RV? OMG. Navigating his scooter? For all his strengths, spatial awareness may not have been his highest attribute.
Poolboy. I know the image you may be conjuring… speedo, synchronized swimming, Saturday Night Live…. No. That was not our precise image. We helped John cover his pool, and fish various things out of his pool… including John himself. It always made us just a bit nervous when he started working around the pool. If mouth to mouth resuscitation was going to be required, well… sorry, Jo. We did what we could.
Delinquent. You heard me correctly. I mentioned a moment ago his pool, and yes, we had one as well. One night, while Karen and I were in the house watching TV, we heard noises coming from the back yard. I looked out but didn’t see anything. A minute later, we heard noises again and I assumed that neighborhood juvenile delinquents must have gotten into our pool. I put on the lights and go rushing outside ready to go to war, only to find John and two other neighbors (seemingly mature adults, who shall remain nameless Kyle and James) standing in our pool laughing and holding cocktails. Juveniles get a bad rap; it’s the senior delinquents we need to keep on a shorter leash.
Friend. Perhaps his most enduring quality was as friend, and likely most of you have your own “friend” stories as it relates to John. For all his foibles, John was simply the nicest guy in the world. John and Jo were fantastic neighbors, and dear friends.
When one of our neighbors one night was in the deepest of distress, who was the first person she called? John.
When we wanted to spend time with others to socialize, and could clearly choose from a wide selection, more often than not we chose John and Jo.
With confidence, I can tell you we have NEVER laughed harder or longer than when we got together with John and Jo, otherwise known by their rap names Notorious John and Jo Cool J.
We have missed both John and Jo as neighbors, and John, old buddy, you are loved and will be sorely missed.