Gifts From a Soaring Friend

(Adapted from Civil Air Patrol VounteerNOW online newsletter, 19 February 2010.  Available online here.)

February 19, 2010
Senior Member Frank Whiteley
Thompson Valley Composite Squadron
Colorado Wing

Capt. John H. Campbell, who died Tuesday morning at the age of 55, was a longtime CAP member, was actively involved in the Colorado Wing’s glider program and was the author of several of the organization’s glider training syllabuses. He devoted much of his life to service, making a point of sharing with others:

The gift of knowledge. His father’s work meant he learned fluent French while young and absorbing the world around him. His older siblings’ educational accomplishments inspired him to excel as he achieved his bachelor’s degree at Georgetown and doctorate at Michigan, leading to a post-doctoral degree at Princeton. He chose the academic path of imparting knowledge, rather than continuing in research. Thus he shared this knowledge of physics, mathematics and astronomy to eager students for over a generation.

Feb. 4 marked his last classroom appearance. This gift was shared far beyond the classroom, as both friends and family will attest.

The gift of flight. As a high school student in paradise, he joined Civil Air Patrol and learned to fly gliders and powered aircraft.

Simple flight was not enough; he chose to soar. And soar he did for nearly 40 years, from several clubs, in contests, at CAP academies and professionally. His many logbooks show a devotion to sharing this gift of flight with those who sought it, as it had been shared with him. His hand was there in developing those programs, the selection methods and fund-raising that would open doors for youth: the Cadet Youth Flight Scholarship, the Bultman Flight Scholarship, the Kolstad Youth College Scholarship and the U.S. Junior Team. He chaired the Soaring Society of America (SSA) Youth Committee for many years, only recently passing the torch. He last gave a flight lesson in early December, but continued ground instruction into January.

The gift of love. He loved the SSA and, storm-delayed, arrived during the final hours of the last day of itse recent convention. A kind Arkansas lady drove him from the airport to the convention, where he came to the youth booth and visited with some of the former junior team members and others in passing. He attended the awards banquet and stood to be recognized as a former SSA regional director. Apart from his obvious love of soaring, he had another love of his life. Who knows why couples part, but he found no one else. He was astonished when Janet appeared in these final days, nearly 20 years after they’d last seen each other. She was a great comfort with kind words, gentle touches, affection and attention. He wanted her to have a simple cup from a shelf in his apartment — the “heart” cup she gave him on their first date nearly 30 years ago, bearing the simple phrase, “Kiss me, I’m ready.” Those same words were uttered when she arrived.

His brother, Andrew, and sister, Joan, and students and close friends visited and called during those final days and hours. When he could no longer respond, he still listened when able to the many appreciations of his involvement in so many lives.

The gift of sight. Despite a body racked with disease, he remained a donor, and his corneas will restore the gift of sight, perhaps to someone who may someday enjoy the wondrous beauty of soaring flight.

Farewell this day, Dr. John Holmes Campbell: brother, scholar, mentor, master and friend. May your spirit soar and serve to inspire us all.

At John Campbell’s request, there will be no funeral. A memorial gathering in Boulder is planned for a later, warmer date. His cremains will be interred with family in Washington, D.C. Remembrances may be made through charitable donations to any of the youth soaring scholarships he promoted and supported through the Soaring Society of America – the Cadet Youth Flight Scholarship, Bultman Youth Flight Scholarship and Kolstad Youth College Scholarship and U.S. Junior Team. Make the donation payable to the SSA, specifying the applicable fund, and send care of Soaring Society of America, P.O. Box 2100, Hobbs, NM 88241-2100. Please identify as being in memory of Dr. John H. Campbell. Go to for more information. Donations in Campbell’s memory to the Mile High Youth Gliding Association are also recommended. The address is 5534 Independence Road, Boulder, CO 80301. Go to for more information.

About the author: Mike Hower

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    Mike Hower - Sep 08, 2013

    Thanks to Larry Trick, #452, for finding this article in the TSA Archives.

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