This page is News 12's memorial to beloved Anchor Tom Campbell, who died on Wednesday, May 2.
Tom had been battling cancer for more than a year and retired from News 12 in December.
He had a 44-year career in journalism and started at News 12 in December 1995.
Prior to joining News 12, Tom had experience working as an anchor/reporter in several cities, including WTXL in Tallahassee, Fla., WCMH in Columbus, Ohio; KBMT in Beaumont, Texas; KSBY in San Luis Obispo, Calif.; KTRK in Houston, Texas; and WTVN in Columbus, Ohio.
Tom's first big story was the collapse of the Silver Bridge over the Ohio River in 1967 that killed 46 people. In 1968, Tom covered his first of many presidential campaigns, interviewing Richard Nixon and Robert Kennedy. Kennedy's interview would be one of his last before his assassination. The following year Tom reported reaction to Astronaut Neil Armstrong's walk on the moon from the astronaut's hometown.
In his years of reporting, Tom traveled all over the United States and to foreign countries. In the 80s, Tom reported on the restoration of the Statue of Liberty and filed reports from Ellis Island. Reporting has also taken Tom to China for three weeks and to Haiti twice. When an Amtrak passenger train derailed in Mobile, Ala., killing 47 people, Tom filed live reports from the scene.
Tom was a native of Delaware, Ohio, and attended Ohio Wesleyan and Ohio State Universities.
In lieu of flowers, Tom requested donations be made to Golden Harvest Food Bank.
Tom Campbell's legacy is strong. The knowledge he shared with his co-workers here at News 12 made many good reporters better reporters. He was the consummate professional and that professionalism positively affected all who worked with him. Tom was my friend and I will miss him.
We're here for just a little while
And then, it seems, we're not
Only that's not really true,
This lie we're often taught
For if one crawls down deep within
And gives an honest check
He'll find the mark of not just one
But countless architects
The folks who planned and broke the ground
Are written on the stones
But others less conspicuous
Are etched within the bones
They prop us up like beams of steel
Hidden in the walls
The sounds of things they've long since said
Still echo in our halls
Sure, they walked respectfully
And thought they'd left no trace
But the vividness of their influence
Is what colors the place
We're a little tougher for it here
A tad bit wiser there
Softer where it counts the most
But harder still to tear
And though the paint may sometimes peel
And scuffs do mar the floor
We've only to remember you
To set things right once more
Then when the years march forward
And the architects are gone
All the things that they helped build
Will still stand proud and strong
I remember Tom always kept you on your toes. A few years back at the Masters Tom asked me a question and I didn't know the answer. Being a proud Ohio State Buckeye I should have know the answer was Jack Nicklaus...another Buckeye. Tom was a huge sports fans, especially his Cleveland teams. He left his mark on countless number of people and he will certainly be missed. Gone, but never forgotten.
It is with a heavy heart that I sit to write this reflection of Tom Campbell. I became his co-anchor at WRDW-TV in 2000 and we stayed partnered on-air until my departure in 2004. Those who remember me will know me by my maiden name, Johanne Lochard.
There is a Buddhist proverb that encapsulates my relationship with Tom. It says "when a student is ready, the teacher will appear." For me, Tom was the teacher I need at that point in my professional career. While I had studied journalism in school and I had practiced my craft in other media markets -- I still had a lot to learn. The only thing is I didn't know what I didn't know. Tom helped to educate me in the most gentle and constructive way. For example I remember we were on the set doing News 12 at Midday once, when Tom turned to me and said "you read that last story as if you don't know what it means." I reluctantly admitted that I didn't entirely comprehend the script our producer had written. It was not that the producer was wrong; it was that I did not have an understanding of the subject matter.
Now, in that moment Tom had a choice. He could have become angry at being paired with an anchor who was inexperienced -- and worse yet -- ill-informed. By that point in his career, he been reporting and anchoring well over 20 years. He'd interviewed everyone from kings to con men. But instead he chose to use the :30 seconds remaining in the commercial break to explain the issue in a way that made it crystal clear. He didn't make me feel dumb. There was no condescension in his voice and certainly no pity for all that I didn't know. In that moment, I felt the loving patience of someone who wanted to bring me over to the place where he was. His words were a bridge to understanding. I felt that I was being invited in to share in his wealth of knowledge and overall worldliness.
That is how Tom is (was); always willing to share; willing to teach and mold all those who came across his pass. But he was only available if the student was ready. I am thankful that when I met Tom, I was ready. However, now I am not ready to say goodbye to my colleague, my teacher and my friend.
Today I was thinking about Tom and decided I better make a folder in my email to compile all of the emails he's sent us over the past year. You see, even when he got sick, Tom was constantly sending emails to our newsroom. Critiquing the shows, offering advice, pointing out pet peeves, and basically cracking us all up. I wanted to have a little collection of Tom's emails.
It's been a little bit of an excuse for some of us -- an excuse that Tom was doing all right. That Tom was just fine if he was still emailing the newsroom, still offering his old-school news advice with a no-nonsense attitude. He was still a part of us, even if only virtually. He sent one almost every day, usually several every day.
Lately the emails slowed down. One week I was taking Tom downtown to a radiation appointment, and he explained his various medications and treatments were making it hard to type. His hands were severely tingling, and it made typos more frequent. So, naturally, he was sending fewer emails. (Obviously, if they had typos, they were unacceptable to Tom!)
In the past two or three weeks, the emails stopped completely. It was definitely a sign that Tom was not doing well. No more emails means no more denying how sick he is.
To me, those emails represent Tom. The man who's always offering no-nonsense advice to us in the newsroom. The man who always reads through scripts slowly and meaningfully, pausing to point out errors or suggestions. Tom could quite literally pull a name out of a hat and if it was in any way, shape or form related to any script he'd ever read in his time at WRDW -- I swear that man could tell you everything about it. He has a memory like I've never seen. I can't explain how valuable a memory like that is in an industry like news. It shows he didn't just read our local news.. he actually absorbed it.
In the news business, reporters are constantly in and out. Moving on from two-year contracts and moving up to bigger markets. It blows my mind to think about the number of reporters Tom has worked with over the years. He has made an impact on each of them, that much I do know. Can you imagine knowing that people you'd trained, molded, scolded, and encouraged eventually became some of this country's most recognized and respected journalists? In cities big and small, reporters and anchors who started at WRDW under the guidance of Tom Campbell are now molding and scolding other young reporters. He truly made an impact on this world and in our industry, and I hope he knows that.
I will always remember Tom teaching us to say victims "died," not "passed away." They are "buried," not "laid to rest." He said not to sugarcoat things. He even told Richard recently that when his time comes, we'd better just cut to the chase and not say he "passed away" or was "laid to rest." We are supposed to just say, "Tom died."
Well, I can hardly type those words without tears, let alone say them out loud. When that time comes, it will really hurt. But what I want to make sure we remember is -- when that time comes, "Tom died" is not really what we'll be saying or thinking anyway. "Tom helped." "Tom taught." "Tom fought." "Tom joked." Those are the phrases we'll be using. Not just "Tom died." But most importantly, "Tom lived." And that's a phrase I can definitely promise to use.
For many years I’ve known Tom Campbell. I, like many viewers in the CSRA, saw Tom in the news but never had the chance to meet him. That changed about five years ago when I came to News 12 as an Engineer. I was fortunate enough to get to know Tom on a personal level and found out that we had many of the same likes and interests. On occasion we had an opportunity to chat and talk about news issues as well as life issues.
A little over a year ago, Tom started having back pain and thought that maybe he had pulled something or injured himself. The pain would not go away so several days later he went to the doctor who ordered several tests to be run to determine the cause of the pain. The results showed that the pain was being caused by something more devastating than a pulled muscle and Tom was diagnosed with cancer. He started treatments and began the tough battle with the disease that eventually he would lose. I had gone through some health issues a number of years back so we had another common ground to discuss with his struggle and the battle he was in. Through this I got to know Tom even more and our friendship deepened. Our talks seemed to have more depth and weren’t always on superficial subjects anymore. Among our subjects we talked of retirement, money issues, pain, clothing (a popular topic for news people), travel, history (one of Tom’s favorite subjects) as well as the news of the day. He often mentioned how much he missed being part of the station and had a goal of coming back to see everyone on a more regular basis.
In the television world, Engineer sometimes can be a fancy word for Handyman. Tom would tell you in an instant that he wasn’t mechanically inclined but he would always try his best to fix an issue before asking you for help. When he did ask for your help, you knew it was something beyond his ability and that he truly would appreciate your help. I’ve was blessed to have been called his handyman, computer guy, carpenter, plumber, gardener, painter, auto mechanic, HVAC man, but above all I was blessed to have been called his friend.
You positively impacted many lives here at News 12 and beyond and you will be missed my friend.
Gary L. Williamson
Tom Campbell is the wisest and wittiest man I've ever known. No one is filled with more information than he is. You need to fact check a particular story? Check with Tom. Don't know when anything similar to this car wreck happened? Ask Tom? Can't name all 66 teams in the NCAA basketball tournament? Tom can. All this knowledge has no doubt helped him with his quips in any conversation. You could be having the most serious of conversations, hilarious of jokes, or mundanest of talks, but Tom would always leave that conversation as the key piece. And I've tried my hardest, but no one can pick on his fellow co-workers better than Tom Campbell. Our Midday producer still begs to be made fun of the way Tom used to belittle him (all in good fun of course). Any success News 12 has or future successes its employees may earn will always be because of Tom Campbell's greatness.
I will never forget covering breaking news in Edgefield, S.C., one afternoon -- and a seasoned, well-spoken, 100 percent respected journalist told me over the phone, "Neal, we're counting on you. You're our eyes and ears out there." Never had I felt such pride to be a part of a news team. That journalist was Tom Campbell. So much can be said of a man who spent more than four decades in TV news, and covered some of the most intense stories of his generation ... that all I can say is -- thank you, Tom. For teaching me how to be a better professional, a better team member ... a better person. Our hearts at News 12 are heavy, knowing that email ending with "Tc" isn't coming again. But our spirits are with you, as you are no longer in pain. Rest In Peace with the Lord, Tom -- love you man.
Today we lost a man who made a difference, my co-worker and friend Tom Campbell Wrdw. A man who devoted his entire life to educating others, the public and his colleagues spread across the country, about anything and everything. From interv...iews with presidents, athletes, and the NASA shuttle program in its heyday, to the Great Wall of China and yes, even pandas, and most certainly the Ohio State Buckeyes. Tom made it his life's work to see the world, sharpened #2 pencil in hand, and not only tell us about it, but to teach us. We are forever better for having known you, Tom. May you, finally, rest in peace. I sure hope our God has a nice Outback steak and a vanilla milkshake waiting for you!
The television world lost a good one today. Tom Campbell will be missed by so many. He was a dear friend and amazing mentor. There's a void without him that will never be filled...but there will forever be a voice in the back of my head pushing me to be better. Thank you for that, Tom.
We all lost a good friend, incredible mentor, and intelligent, handsome, wonderful person. Tom Campbell fought cancer like nobody's business; he faced it head on, and never gave up. He remained gracious and inspired many through his fight. I know he would be mad at me for saying "lost." You're not lost, we are. I accompanied Tom to a few treatments. We talked about the future, his dreams and hopes for after he got well. We laughed about an array of subjects from politics to sports and talked about the places we wanted to visit “one day.” We ate Chick-Fil-A, lots of Chick-Fil-A. During one of those treatments -- I confessed that almost a dozen years earlier I had a “crush" on Tom when I first came to Augusta (before I was married) -- he laughed, smiled, shook his head, and said "silly girl ..." I admired and respected Tom; he inspired me to always look forward. Tom, you are free now -- I hope you are traveling to all those places, my friend. Until we meet again ...
Wow, reading all the things everyone has written makes it difficult to come up with something different to say ... But the theme of mentor is woven through the comments and I must say Tom was also a mentor to me ... although not a journalist he welcomed me into the News 12 family (and they are a wonderful group of people). I had no idea what I was doing when starting Eating Well with Kim, but Tom really did have a calming presence and a desire to see you or help you succeed. I would ramble on and on about this or that and he would just look at me and say a short sentence and poof I would know what to do or not do as the case may be ... he was a great sport in the EWWK kitchen even though half the things I made he did not like ... and so I hope they don't put tomatoes in salads in Heaven and have lots of carrots and lemon pudding. I will miss my life lesson chats with Tom. It was a pleasure knowing you Tom and being part of your life.
It's funny that I spend my day writing for a living, but when it came time today to write about a man I've been mentored by for more than a year ... words seemed difficult to come by. I know I won't be the only one to say this, but Tom garnered so much respect in that newsroom. He hasn't anchored a show in more than a year, but his voice is in my head every day as I type. Podium vs. lectern, constant anecdotes and the only person I know in the newsroom to still use a pencil ... so much made him unique. Tom taught me not to waste words and his last piece of writing advice was one that was Tom to a tee. Tom said we weren't supposed to say he "passed away" or was "laid to rest." We are supposed to just say, "Tom died." And that's the way it was, that's the way he was and we loved him for it.
In the high-tech career of television journalism, Tom is the only person I know who used a pencil. Never a pen. Always a pencil. Multiple times a day, Tom would get up from his desk to sharpen it. I asked him once ... why a pencil? He said the answer is simple: You can erase things. That speaks to me a lot about Tom's career as a journalist. Not that he wanted to get rid of things ... but instead that he was editing everything to the last minute. Tom was a perfectionist and if he could make something better, he would. The newsroom is a busy place, and we write a lot, so I can't imagine getting up every so often to sharpen a pencil. Now that I think about it, I guess I'm taking the easy way out using an ink pen. But Tom always took the time to do things his way. And using a pencil ... well, that just fits him.
But Tom's life and impact on us and this community, however, was not written in pencil. His impact on my life and career, as well as countless other lives and careers, is written in bold ink. It cannot be erased, and neither can his memory.
Tom's pencil sharpener is still in the newsroom. I used it today for the first time. I'm also using a pencil today. I can't remember the last time I did that, but I'm doing it to remember him.