BELLBROOK – The community of Bellbrook lost a spirited and innovated resident on July 24. However Patsy Ruth Campbell’s vision and spirit will not be forgotten.
Campbell was a longtime chamber member, former Bellbrook City Council member and community volunteer. She fought for the betterment of community and the people. She had a vision and fought to develop it into reality.
“Patti was a lovely person with a big heart who wanted to do the right thing to help Bellbrook residents,” said Bellbrook City Council Member Dona Seger-Lawson.
Pat and her husband moved to Bellbrook from Dayton in the early to mid 1960s with their young son Kim. Being a journalism major, she quickly put her skills to work when she and her husband started Bellbrook’s first newspaper, the Bellbrook Moon. She always wanted to write for the newspaper and she didn’t let the fact that Bellbrook didn’t have a newspaper stop her from fulfilling her dream. She distributed, edited and became an important part of the Bellbrook community. The Bellbrook Moon ran from 1960-1970. Mary Graves, former Mayor of 16 years of Bellbrook and Pat’s close friend, donated copies of the Bellbrook Moon to the Bellbrook library after Pat’s death.
“Pat had been active in the community even before Bellbrook became a city and helped adopting a charter in 1974. Bellbrook was in almost constant political turmoil in the early and mid 1970s. At this time, a large part of Sugarcreek Township was annexed into Bellbrook. This led to city status and severe revenue shortfalls as the new city struggled to correct infrastructures under township government and to provide basic city services such as police, fire, and street maintenance,” Retired City Manager and Mayor Dave Hamilton said.
“To pay for all of this, a controversial income tax was enacted by city council, which led to the cataclysmic recall of six of seven council members and the repeal of the income tax. To her credit, several people like Pat Campbell, were among the few courageous voices of reason during this turbulent period. Pat was very supportive of hiring a city manager, which had been authorized by the new city charter, but had been delayed for three years because of all the chaos.”
Pat grew up in Bellefontaine. She once told Graves that she was heavy when she was younger. So, to help slim down she began dancing. She eventually started dancing professionally, ballet, tap and Hawaiian style. She became part of a traveling dance company and that’s how she made her spending money while she was in high school. But, she loved to dance.
“About four years ago, we went to a Lion’s Club event and they had line dancing and Pat got up there and danced. She had so much energy. She was a breath of fresh air,” said Graves.
“Every time I interacted with her, I discovered another part or dimension about who she was. She led a very engaged life – active in the civic life of her community, her journalism career, and her skills as a dancer. There was Pat with a big smile on her face and you could tell, even at her age, she had some real moves,” said Bellbrook United Methodist Church Pastor Darryl Fairchild.
Pat didn’t run for council until 1995 and served for the 16 years and never missed a meeting. She and Graves worked side by side for all those years as acquaintances until approximately seven years ago when Pat’s husband passed away. It was then their friendship blossomed. They became traveling buddies. They traveled to Philadelphia, New York, Nashville, San Antonio, Atlanta, Reno, Salt Lake City, Washington DC.
“Pat and I meshed because of the circumstances. There aren’t many people that can up and go at any time. We traveled a lot together. Patty was a very good friend,” said Graves. “She was loving, intelligent and kind. She cared about people, her community and that she was a good person. I hope that when I’m gone people say, ‘I’m glad I knew her’ and that’s how I felt about Pat. I’m glad I knew her. She was a gift from God. I think Patty loved Bellbrook more than anyone did.”
She always said what she thought. People respected her opinions and she always made sure everyone had a turn to speak.
“Pat was always honest and forthright in helping the City pursue its priorities even when that led to disagreements with other governments. Pat was firm but always extremely courteous with everyone she met. Her intelligence, kindness and unflinching support for good government on the local level was extraordinary,” Hamilton said.
Not only was Pat very involved in the community and the government, she was also a dedicated Christian.
“She was a very dedicated friend, church member, and community leader. She was faithful to participate in worship and join in civic responsibilities. Her ministry was clearly “beyond the walls” of the church building,” former Pastor of Bellbrook United Methodist Church Rev. Terry Heck said. “When she came to Bellbrook United Methodist Church, she was already serving others with tireless effort. She had been recognized for her community service and developed a strong network within Bellbrook and Sugarcreek Township.”
In the months leading up to her death, Pat had developed macular degeneration, a heart condition and failing kidneys. She was taken to Quaker Heights in Waynesville where she passed away.
“In one of my last meetings with Pat, we talked about her health and impending death. She wasn’t ready to die. It wasn’t because she was afraid to die – rather, it was that she enjoyed living so much. She didn’t want to stop being a part of God’s great feast- relating to people, seeing new places, learning new things, and accomplishing new goals,” Pastor Fairchild said.
“I loved her. I saw all of her idiosyncrasies and yet appreciated them all. Some people found her abrasive because she was stubborn and outspoken but that’s not bad,” said Graves.
Pat was born March 9, 1927. She was 88 when she died. She was a graduate of Bowling Green State University in 1949 with a journalism degree. She was creator, distributer and editor of Bellbrook-Sugarcreek Post and served on the American Legion Auxiliary Tuttle-Miller Post, Bellbrook City Council, Greene County Fair Board, Water/Wastewater Advisory Committee, Agricultural Society, Development Corporation, Bellbrook Museum Board and Economic Development Committee, Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, and Miami Valley Military Affairs Association. She was inducted into the Greene County Women’s Hall of Fame in 2005, and was an active member of the Bellbrook United Methodist Church.
Patsy Campbell has left her imprint on almost every aspect of Bellbrook, from the spreading important news through the media or spreading her will through several organizations and religion.
Danielle Coots is a freelance writer for Greene County News.