Melvin Lee Campbell, Sr.February 28, 1946 ~ October 15, 2017 (age 71)
Melvin Lee Campbell Sr., 71, of Fairbanks, passed away Sunday, October 15, 2017, at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital surrounded by his loving family. Mel was born in Redding, California on February 28, 1946, the fourth of six children born to Lena and Joseph Campbell. He was raised by his aunt and uncle, Mary and Melvin Eigner, whom he called Mom and Dad. He and his brothers, Joe and Greg, had many happy childhood memories salmon fishing on the Trinity River, attending family picnics on the Klamath River, having family campouts in Castella, CA and hunting for pheasant around their home.
Mel was a member of the Wintu Indian Tribe of Northern California. He was very proud of his Native American bloodlines, which stretched back for countless generations. While Mel only knew a few colorful Wintu words, he used them often and to great effect.
Mel came to Alaska as a teenager to escape the hot weather of California and because his mother wanted to keep him out of trouble! He lived with his sister, Lola, and worked at Santa’s bakery, where he met Patricia Nottingham in 1969. They were married in 1970 and had 3 children, Rick, Mel Jr. and Rachel. Mel and Patti recently celebrated their 47th wedding anniversary on October 2, 2017. Mel enjoyed taking his boys to the stock car races when they were young and coaching Rachel’s softball teams. Later, he was a dedicated grandfather and proud of his grandchildren. He had a magical way with babies and toddlers, who adored his funny faces and voices. Mel was always available to help his grandchildren and could always be counted on to buy them an ice cream cone and a cookie. He loved to spoil them.
Mel was a member of the Laborer’s Union Local 942. He worked on the North Slope doing pipeline maintenance in the 1980’s and also worked at Fairbanks Sand and Gravel and Clear Air Force Base. Following his retirement in 2006, Mel spent countless hours volunteering for the Ice Dogs Hockey Club, where you could count on him to greet you at the door with a smile and a handshake. He also provided invaluable volunteer help to the Greater Fairbanks Racing Association where he sometimes drove the water truck and helped to clean around the racetrack and stands and do repairs. For two seasons, his green #2 modified stock car crawled around the track, earning him the moniker “Mr. Pokey.’’ A dedicated sports fan, Mel followed the Atlanta Braves and San Francisco 49ers for many years. In his retirement, Mel loved maintaining the best lawn on the block and also keeping a close watch on the weather forecast. He’d often call to remind you to drive carefully because the roads would be slick.
Mel is preceded in death by his parents, Mary and Melvin Eigner, Lena and Roland Sargent and Joseph Campbell; his brothers, Kenneth and Gregory Campbell; brothers-in-law David Machen and Joseph Lucero; and his nephew Michael Hodges.
Mel is survived by his wife, Patricia; his sons, Richard (Helena) and Mel Jr. (Katherine Daily); his daughter, Rachel (Elizabeth Peterson); his brother, Joseph (Mary); his sisters, Rosemary Machen and family, Lola Hodges (Jerry) and Barbara Lucero and family; his nieces, Debra Woods and family and Shirley Anderson (Dennis); his nephew, Jay Hodges (Cork); his grandchildren, Joshua (AshLee), Brandon, Sierra Owen (Forrest), Eathan, Hayley, Savannah Garrett, Dylan, Zachary, Emily, Lucy and Paul; his great grandchildren, Arianna, Colten and EverLee; and many more cousins, nieces, nephews and friends too numerous to mention but loved all the same.
Mel never met a stranger and believed in being a good neighbor and a good citizen. He could always be seen around town picking up trash, helping a neighbor shovel a driveway or mowing someone’s lawn. He was always the first to volunteer whenever a neighbor or family member needed help of any kind. In lieu of flowers or donations, the family asks that you pay it forward to a neighbor or friend in Mel’s memory.
A Celebration of Life will be held at 1:00 p.m. on November 4 at the Laborer’s Union Hall, 2740 Davis Rd. Friends and family are welcome to bring a small side dish or dessert to share.
Arrangements were entrusted to Blanchard Family Funeral Home, 482-3232. Online condolences may be made at blanchardfamilyfuneralhome.com