John Campbell '54 May 3, 2023 10:23 AM updated: May 3, 2023 10:33 AM
John Ross Campbell
October 29, 1929 - January 28, 2023
Authentic, outspoken, honest, adventurous, and one-of-a-kind John Ross Campbell headed west on the evening of January 28th, 2023, from his residence in San Angelo, Texas to meet his Lord and Savior and his beloved wife Ann welcoming him home to eternity.
John was born in Roswell, New Mexico on the 29th of October 1929, a memorably bad day for many, but a blessed day for all who would have the good fortune to know him. His parents were Elmer Finus and Marian Morgan Campbell who soon moved with John and big brother Randy to Fort Davis, Texas. There, Elmer helped bulldoze the road up to MacDonald Observatory, Marian taught school, and John's early childhood days produced indelible memories of roaming the Davis Mountains and making lifelong friendships. In the mid-1930s the family moved to Bosque County in central Texas to ranch. At age 15 John learned to fly from a WWII flight instructor and soon began flying his own war surplus Stearman biplane around the countryside. He graduated from Meridian High School in 1946 and, after a few semesters of college, joined the Naval Air Corps as an Aviation Cadet in 1948. He trained as a carrier pilot in Pensacola and Corpus Christi before being stationed in Norfolk, Virginia with Atlantic Fleet Anti-Submarine Squadron Twenty-Six.
December 27th, 1950, John married his high school sweetheart and love of his life, Ann Lomax, in Meridian and returned with her to Norfolk. In 1952 they came back to Texas and moved to College Station with newborn Suzy where John completed his education at Texas A&M in the Class of '54. He was a proud Aggie forever after! Son John and daughter Janie were born to the family in the coming years spent in Dallas.
John always said he "never worked a day in his life" because he did what he loved for a living. He flew with the Naval Ready Reserve from 1952 through 1966 out of Navy Dallas and was a pilot with Continental Airlines for almost 35 years. He was appreciated for his integrity, generosity, and good counsel and was elected to positions of leadership by his fellow pilots, serving on safety and accident investigation committees and as treasurer of the Airline Pilots Association. His career in aviation afforded him the opportunity to travel the world and fly many types of aircraft from the Aeronca Champion he first flew to the TBMs off Jeep Aircraft Carriers, the Navy F9F to the DC-10 and Boeing 747 to name a few. The final ten years of his career were spent flying internationally over the Atlantic to Europe and throughout the Pacific. He said the highlight was his time spent with Air Micronesia. All told he logged over 33,000 flight hours. He was a member of the Quiet Birdmen.
Throughout his career John continued ranching and owned, flew, brokered, rebuilt, modified, and sold a succession of light aircraft and amphibians. His private flying experiences on unimproved landing strips and lakes were extensive in Alaska, Canada, and Mexico primarily in pursuit of good fishing and hunting with friends and family. On a most memorable trip he and Ann flew along the Alcan highway and Alaska Range. Dad always called Mom "his most fearless co-pilot".
The couple eventually moved to the ranch in Bosque County after retirement where they enjoyed many years of country living and frequent, fun-filled family times and holiday celebrations. No Papaw ever enjoyed his grand and great grandchildren more and he was beloved by them.
Dad was a lover of people and never met a stranger, striking up conversations with whoever was nearby. His storytelling, humor, and wit were renowned, and tears of laughter accompanied many a gathering around the dining table. The Campbells' hospitality and good cooking, love of music and good times were a constant as they welcomed many to their home. He was blessed by the friendships of good people and was a faithful member of the Morgan and Meridian United Methodist Churches. He was also a Rotarian. In 2015, due to health concerns, they made San Angelo their home.
John was preceded in death by his parents E.F. and Marian Campbell, brother Randy, son-in-law Jeff Trentacosta, brother-in-law and sister-in-law Paul and Jane Bolton, and brother-in-law Jim Lomax. His wife, Ann passed away in 2018 following almost 68 years of marriage. The love they shared has been a solid foundation and inspiration for their children and extended family.
John is survived by his daughter Suzy and husband Pat Makins of San Angelo, son John Campbell and wife Judy of Morgan, daughter Janie Trentacosta of Fredericksburg, grandchildren Daniel (Claire) Makins, Sarah Makins McAlister, Jessie Trentacosta, Kaitlyn (Andy) Hawrylak, Matthew (Kelsey) Campbell, and Melissa (Sam) Naquin, and great grandchildren Cal and James Makins, Hallie and Ty McAlister, Robert and Eleanor Hawrylak, Noah, Sienna, and Silas Naquin, sister-in-law Carolyn Lomax, numerous nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews and friends.
The family wishes to thank all his kind caregivers, especially Stephanie Melendez, and the staffs of Lyndale, Brayden Park, and Hospice of San Angelo.
A Celebration of John's life will be held on March 4, 2023, at Meridian FUMC at 11:00 am. In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to the Morgan Volunteer Fire Department, P.O. Box 305, Morgan TX 76671.