William Robert Campbell, Ph.D., aka Bill Kammeraad-Campbell, actor, director, activist, author, scholar, husband and father, died on Feb. 13, 2019. He was 81.
Born March 24, 1937 in Franklin, Penn., he was the son of Floyd Eugene and Cecile Louella (Edinger) Campbell. His parents and baby sister, Emma Louise, preceded him in death.
He is survived by his wife of 32 years, Susan Kammeraad-Campbell of Summerville, and their daughters Abigail of Los Angeles, and Riley and Madelaine of Summerville .
Campbell’s life was vast and contained multitudes. From his first career as a Hollywood actor and director (stage name John Roberts), he became a political scientist studying and participating in another theater, one he often described as absurd (“Politics – ” he would say, “poly meaning many; tics meaning blood-sucking parasites”).
He graduated from Allegheny College (thesis, “Nkrumah, Charisma, and Political Development in Ghana”) and from the University of Pittsburgh earned his masters (thesis, “The Structure of Middle East Politics: The Issues of Legitimacy”) and doctorate (thesis, “Machiavelli’s ‘New Route’”) – his theses laying the foundation for a panoptic intellectual and activist life. He was an activist in the civil rights movement and worked with the Special Operations Research Office for the U.S. Army to aid U.S. counterinsurgent missions in understanding indigenous civilian and military leadership groups, specifically during the Vietnam War. There, he witnessed horrors that would stir and disrupt him for life.
He was a member of the consul in Paris that negotiated the release of the American hostages held for 444 days at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.
Campbell spent the majority of his academic career at Miami University of Ohio, from 1970-97, becoming a full professor in 1984. He was director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Political Science from 1983-87 and chaired numerous committees, including the library committee during its critical transition to computerization. He directed the Model League of Arab States/Midwest (1994-97), establishing protocols that became the model for the national league.
Campbell was a professor fellow at the Harvard University Center for Middle Eastern Studies and was a visiting professor at the University of Shiraz, University of Tehran and Cesare Alfieri Instituto in Florence, Italy. He was an instructor at the University of Rhode Island, University of Maryland (Europe), University of Pittsburgh, Joint Military Intelligence College and the College of Charleston.
Campbell authored numerous books, monographs and articles on the Middle East, Islamic law, foreign policy, political philosophy and public administration. He wrote and presented hundreds of papers and lectures all over the world and was often interviewed by news media. He spoke multiple languages and was versed in the research languages of Attic Greek, Latin, Tuscan and mathematics.
He and his wife co-founded The Gathering House in Oxford, Ohio, a center for creative writing and thinking. Upon his early retirement from Miami, they would move their young family to the lowcountry of South Carolina, establishing Joggling Board Press, an award-winning independent book publishing company and teaching press.
Nothing in modern medicine would explain how he survived these past three years the unrelenting assaults to his body following severe sepsis. He rose again and again to live another day. He was a fighter to the end, but most of all, and best of all, he was a lover.
“A most favored man am I. Salvaged by my wife. Saved by my girls. Were I offered heaven, surely I would trade it gladly for more time with my family. Whether there be afterlife or not, I shall not like being dead – being separated from my family here or there is hell anyway. Some may ask where comes my pride in life? Tell them simply, look at you. Susan and Abby and Riley and Maddy. I harbor a primitive pride in you, a mad love for which I would spend heaven any hour. And tell those who ask that I am grateful to have had the honor to watch some of my students grow. If I made a contribution to their maturation it was only by way of trying to protect their growing space. Tell them I am grateful to have been a witness. Encourage them to stand against the tide, listen to the truth of their youngest, most hopeful heart and march to no other drummer no matter how distant.”
A memorial gathering will be held at his home on Sunday, March 3, 2019 at 3 p.m. The family asks that contributions in his name be made to Edisto Riverkeeper, P.O. Box 3395, Aiken, S.C. 29802, www.edistoriverkeeper.org.
For the terrific matrix that was his mind, Campbell reveled in simple things. “Life,” he said, “is a whoopie cushion. It’s meant to be enjoyed.”
Arrangements by PARKS FUNERAL HOME, 130 West 1st North Street, Summerville, SC 29483.