Theresa Lillian Zemil Campagna , 88, a longtime resident of Nassau Bay, Texas, died peacefully this week in her sleep. Terry was born the daughter of Morris Zemil and Goldie Sobeloff Zemil in Baltimore, Maryland. She moved to Texas in 1962, when her late, beloved husband, Ignatius Edward (Ed) Campagna, was working on the design and construction of the Johnson Spacecraft Center.
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Although many knew Terry as the first (and only) female President of the Texas Association of Magicians or as a teacher of self-hypnosis at the College of the Mainland, her family knew that her first love was dance. Terry left home as a teenager to work as a soloist in tap, ballet and jazz. It was through her dance career that she met Ed, a professional magician who was the Master of Ceremonies on a show in which Terry was performing. Terry and Ed were trailblazers in many ways - they built their own homes, defied their families' traditions by marrying outside their faiths, and moved to Texas at a time when you couldn't buy your own blend of fresh coffee beans anywhere in Houston.
Magicians around the world can testify to Terry's uniquely entertaining hospitality, as she and Ed welcomed to their home literally hundreds of performers who were traveling in the United States. She and Ed performed on stages and at trade shows throughout the United States, Canada, and particularly the Caribbean, where they loved to entertain after Ed's retirement from NASA in 1975. She also spent many years planning and organizing conventions for the Texas Association of Magicians and the Society of American Magicians.
Terry was happily married to Ed for almost 40 years. She was a devoted daughter and wife, and she was proudest as the mother of Larry Campagna and Pam Campagna (P J) and as the grandmother of Vincent Edward Campagna. Because Terry mentored and nurtured many young magicians, there are many other "adopted" children who fondly called her Mom. She is also survived by her three siblings, Ruth Zemil Tuchman of Phoenix, Arizona, Lee Zemil of Sarasota, Florida, and Eileen Zemil Rothenberg of Wheaton, Maryland; her brother-in-law, Bertram Rothenberg; her sister-in-law, Gelorma Campagna Sorrentino of The Villages, Florida; and a dozen beloved nieces and nephews, their spouses and children; P J's husband, Shon Corrier, and Larry's partner, Patricia Erickson. Terry's entire family is particularly thankful for the loving care shown to her by her caregivers over the past year.
The family will receive visitors on Monday evening from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m., at Distinctive Life Funeral Home, 5455 Dashwood, Bellaire, Texas. There will be a graveside service Tuesday at 1:00 p.m., at the Pavillion at Houston National Cemetery, 10410 Veterans Memorial Drive. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Magic Formula for Education, a subfund of the Greater Houston Community Foundation.
Published in Houston Chronicle on Mar. 17, 2013