A beloved Fort Collins Navy veteran died this week following a months-long battle with cancer.
Harry Campbell, 65, a popular installment from the Fort Collins Coloradoan summer series This is Fort Collins, was admitted to hospice care Thursday with stage 4 neuroendocrine cancer. He was diagnosed with the disease this summer and died Tuesday morning.
Campbell served in the U.S. Navy for 20 years, joining shortly after graduating Fort Collins High School “when it was still the only high school in town,” he said during a Memorial Day interview with the Coloradoan.
He retired a chief petty officer after working much of his career in nuclear reactors and “all the nuclear areas.”
He openly shared the heartbreak of returning home on leave to a country ungrateful of his service. He was almost denied entrance to a high school prom because he was in uniform.
His son Eric remembers his father as a man who “was always there, no matter what and no matter when.”
“The hero they read about was my hero,” Eric wrote in an email to the Coloradoan shortly after Campbell entered hospice care.
He was married to Jennifer Campbell for 43 years and had five children: Amanda Johnson, Eric Campbell, Kenny Campbell, Rebecca Campbell and Shannon Krile. He was the proud grandfather of nine grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. His 10th grandchild is due next month.
Campbell worked in Colorado State University’s mechanical service shop until his illness became too great this fall, Eric said. He was on leave at the time of his death but had not retired.
In a previous interview with the Coloradoan, Campbell said his work gave him “a reason to get up” and the opportunity to train the next generation.
In his free time, Campbell spent time with other veterans and worked with youths “at all levels” of baseball, soccer and wrestling.
“He was the most selfless man I’ve ever known,” Eric said Tuesday. “We never had the nicest things. We weren’t the richest family growing up, but he always made us feel we were the most important things in his life, no matter how hard he had to work.”
A funeral service will begin at noon Friday at Timberline Church, 2908 S. Timberline Road. Campbell will be honored with a U.S. Navy gun salute at his graveside at Grandview Cemetery.
Reprinted with permission from the Coloradoan