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Robert Campbell



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Robert James Campbell, 80, of Newtown died August 2 at Bethel Health Care after a battle with cancer.

He was the husband of Marjorie (Hayner) Campbell, his wife of 60 years. He was a resident of Newtown for the last 55 years.

Mr Campbell was born on August 12, 1933, the eldest son of the late Anna and John Campbell of Bridgewater. He was a graduate of New Milford High School, Class of 1951, and graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, N.Y., in 1955, with a bachelor of aeronautical engineering degree. He was a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity at Rensselaer.

Mr Campbell was a member of the Naval ROTC at Rensselaer and was commissioned a Naval officer upon graduation. He was ordered to flight training and was designated a Naval aviator in October 1956.  Lt Campbell served with VA-212 at Moffett Field in California as a single engine jet attack pilot with special weapons qualifications.

He deployed on a Far East cruise on the carrier Lexington (CVA-16) in 1958. He flew combat patrols during the Taiwan Straits crisis, and made 99 day and night carrier landings while deployed. Lt Campbell left active duty in April 1959 but stayed active as a “weekend warrior” pilot in the Naval Reserves.

He returned to active duty for three months in 1960 and was designated a Navy helicopter pilot. He then flew ASW helicopters with HS-751 at NAS Lakehurst, N.J., until 1967.

He decided to join Sikorsky Aircraft as a flight test engineer upon leaving the Navy in April 1959. He strongly believed that Sikorsky Aircraft and helicopters had a great future, which proved to be a good career decision. He retired in December 1995 after a 36-year challenging career. He was the first engineer at Sikorsky to earn an MBA from the University of Bridgeport, in 1967, done at his own expense.

This opened many opportunities for career growth. He was the only engineer in his era to hold management positions in engineering, purchasing, production control, program management, manufacturing, planning and control, and operations. He was often selected for special projects that helped Sikorsky improve operations and earn new business opportunities. His last seven years at Sikorsky was at the executive level as director of master planning.

Mr Campbell had many interests and was dedicated to community service. He served as vice president of The Newtown Fund for ten years, was an eight-year member of the Republican Town Committee, a two-term member of the Board of Burgesses of the Borough, and a 20-year member of the Borough Zoning Commission. He was also a Boy Scout leader for ten years, including cubmaster of Pack 70 and scoutmaster of Troop 470.

Mr Campbell was a 47-year member of the Masons. He was master of Hiram Lodge #18 in 1972, and a district deputy in 1976-1978. He presided over all three local York Rite bodies, and was most puissant grand master of Connecticut in 1978. He was also a member of the Scottish Rite and the Shriners.

Mr Campbell was a lifelong Episcopalian. He was the first acolyte at St Mark’s Episcopal Church as a youth in Bridgewater. He served on the Vestry of Trinity Episcopal Church in Newtown when the Reverend Steve Gushee was minister, and during the early years of the Reverend Frank Dunn’s ministry.

The Campbell family purchased a security system franchise, Consumer Alarm Products of New England, in 1979. Mr Campbell was president and operated it initially as a part-time business, and later as a retirement business, for the last 30 years. The company concentrated on central station monitored residential systems.

Bob and Marje loved to travel and particularly enjoyed cruises. They made 43 cruises to all parts of the world for a total of 445 days at sea before his death.

In addition to his wife, Mr Campbell is survived by three children and their spouses: Deborah and Ken Cody of Southbury, Robert B. and Marybeth Campbell of Newtown, and Meg and Patrick Reilly of Newtown; nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

He was predeceased by a daughter, Sheryl O’Marra, a former teacher at Fraser-Woods Montessori School in Newtown, who died of breast cancer in January 2005. Sheryl is survived by her husband, Colin O’Marra of Bethel, who remains close to the Campbell family.

Mr Campbell’s grandchildren are Melissa Garthwait-Hibler of Newtown, Andrew Garthwait of Newtown, Colin and Bryan O’Marra of Bethel, Bradley, Kristen and Matthew Campbell of Newtown, and Sean and Katie Reilly of Newtown; and two great-grandchildren, both of Newtown.

Mr Camobell is also survived by a brother, Richard Campbell, and a sister, Dorothy Fitch, of Bridgewater.

Funeral services will be at Trinity Episcopal Church, 36 Main Street in Newtown, on Wednesday, August 6, at 11 am. Burial will follow in the family plot at Newtown Village Cemetery, with full military honors.

Friends may call to Green Funeral Home, 57 Main Street in Danbury, on Tuesday, August 5, from 4 to 8 pm.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to a cancer research foundation of one’s choice, in Mr Cambell’s memory and the memory of his daughter Sherry.

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