Donnie Ray CampbellDecember 7, 1933 ~ January 16, 2017 (age 83)
Stephenville - Memorial service for Donnie Ray Campbell, 83, will be held at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, January 28, 2017, at First Baptist Church in Stephenville with Rev. Richard Jackson officiating. Arrangements for cremation are under the direction of Lacy Funeral Home.
Donnie was born in Brady, Texas, on December 7, 1933, to Perry (Jack) Thomas and Pearl Blanche Jones Campbell. Growing up in Brady, Donnie’s foundation for a lifetime of interest in competitive spirit began. Hunting and sports were a way of life for the young Donnie. He won a state championship title in singles tennis and led the football and basketball teams as captain. The halls of Brady High School still celebrate his athletic career, displaying his name as a Hall of Fame member of the Bulldog Club.
After high school, Donnie attended John Tarleton Agricultural College and played basketball and excelled in tennis, winning the Pioneer Conference Championship. From there an empty gas tank changed the course of his life. Donnie was en route to Texas Tech to continue his education under a full scholarship to play tennis when he ran out of gas about an hour north of Abilene. Donnie called the coach at Texas Tech, but the coach told Donnie he couldn’t help him until the next day. Donnie then made a collect call to Hardin Simmons University. Coach Polk there got in his car and drove to Donnie and filled his car up with gas, and Donnie enrolled at Hardin Simmons the very next day. Donnie rewarded his new coach by winning two Border Conference Championships and one runner up finish, along with a 4th and 2nd place finish at the National Championships and was later inducted into the Hall of Fame. While Donnie had many athletic accomplishments, meeting Joy Pierson was the true act of fate that came out of that empty tank of gas. He and Joy were married on January 28, 1955, in Abilene, Texas, with Rev. Richard Jackson officiating.
Donnie and Joy arrived in Stephenville in 1958 after Donnie coached two years in New Mexico. Donnie spent the next 37 years at Tarleton State where he taught physical education and coached basketball, baseball, men’s and women’s tennis, and golf and was honored with his induction into the Tarleton State Athletic Hall of Fame. As a coach, Donnie broke several barriers, integrating Tarleton State by recruiting the school’s first African American student and leading the first non-scholarship golf team to compete for a national championship and also coached the first non-scholarship golfer to earn All-American awards.
Even with a storied professional career, Donnie and Joy’s proudest accomplishments were their three children, Casey, Terie, and Chad. The Campbell kids all inherited the Donnie Campbell competitive spirit and love of sport and faith. Donnie and Joy raised their family in the First Baptist Church in Stephenville.
Personally, Donnie had many loves and interests. He was an expert marksman, an enthusiastic hunter, and an authority on every black and white western movie or TV series. Donnie loved all types of competition: watching, refereeing, or participating--he did it all. He was a basketball official for 20 years. With over 40 years of experience and success, he was regarded by many as one of the best fast-pitch softball pitchers to throw a ball. At age 56, four years after his last competitive game, he was clocked throwing a 98 mph rise-ball. After taking up golf in the late 1960s, the game became his passion, and he played a lot of golf! He shot his age for the first time at age 65 and had 2 holes-in-one and one double eagle. He continued the trend of averaging his age in his 70s. He enjoyed playing with anyone or even by himself--he just loved to play. He loved his animals, and for most of his life, when you saw Donnie, you saw his dog nearby.
All of Donnie’s life experiences and interests set the stage for his favorite pastime and his most memorable skill. Donnie’s passion for his family, friends, life and competition oozed out of him through his storytelling. He loved to share his experiences through a good story. At the coffee shop, golf course, office, car, or home, there was always time for a story. His stories would touch your heart, cheer you up, and make you think, and no one could resist listening.
His life, his story, and his stories will continue to live through his students, players, friends, and his family.
Survivors include his wife, Joy Campbell of Stephenville, Texas; children, Casey Thomas Campbell and wife, Susan, of Stephenville, Texas; Terie Lynn Campbell of Southlake, Texas; and Chad Lee Campbell and wife, Paige, of China Grove, North Carolina; brother Jackie Campbell of Katy, Texas; Aunt Jewel Yarbrough of Brady, Texas; granddaughters Courtney Marie Campbell and husband, Chris Coffman, Caitlin Anne Campbell, Carly Rose Campbell, and Cooper Lee Campbell; as well as numerous nephews and nieces, and the family dog, Buddy.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Jack and Pearl Campbell.
Memorials may be made to the American Cancer Society at 3301 West Frwy, Fort Worth, TX, 76107, the Dementia Society of America at www.dementiasociety.org/donate, or to charity of choice.