PORTSMOUTH - On September 8, 2002, our heavenly Father dispatched a divine chariot to usher Alfonso Leon Campbell Sr. into His glorious presence. Al's earthly sojourn began on September 20, 1910, in Mitchell Station, Alabama. He was one of four children born to the late Wallace and Ida Campbell. Two siblings (Elisha Bowen and Bertha) preceded him in death. Adeline Campbell, his lone surviving sister, currently resides in Waugh, Alabama. He accepted Christ as Lord and Savior early in his life and served as Deacon Emeritus at St. James Baptist Church in Waugh until his death. After completing his early education in Mt. Meigs, Alabama, he attended and graduated from the State Normal High School in Montgomery. He graduated from Alabama State Teachers College (Alabama State University) in 1934. At Alabama State he was a star football and baseball player. Twice he was selected to the "Chicago Defender" All-American football squad. In 1983, he was inducted into the Alabama State University Athletic Hall of Fame. Following college graduation, he briefly taught geometry and physics at the State Normal High School before assuming the position of Supervisor of Transportation at Alabama State. He served in this capacity until 1964, when he left Alabama State to become an Assistant Dean of Men at Hampton Institute. He cherished the opportunity that this new position afforded to influence and nurture young African-American men in the formative years of their development. After 16 years of dedicated service, he retired in 1980 from Hampton Institute. His tenure as Supervisor of Transportation was interrupted by a stint in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1945. In the Army he rose to the rank of Master Sergeant and led a transportation motor pool company that participated in the D-Day invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. For these efforts he was decorated with four Bronze Stars. After his discharge from the Army, he returned to Alabama State, where he met and married Lucy Barnes on May 4, 1946. He played an important role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, serving as the co-chair of the transportation committee. As a part-time car salesman, he arranged for the purchase of 17 Chevrolet station wagons from General Motors. These vehicles were used to transport many of the boycott participants to work. Jo Ann Gibson Robinson recorded in her book "The Montgomery Bus Boycott and the Women Who Started It (1987)" that, "...the members of the Transportation Committee, led by Alfonso Campbell and Rufus Lewis, did a superb job mapping out the routes for Negroes in every section of the city, and all got free service." (p.93) She also noted that, "The pickup service was so effectively planned that many writers described it as comparable in precision to a military operation (p.55)." Al remained an active member of the Montgomery Improvement Association until he relocated to Virginia in 1964. Of the many organizations in which he participated, he was especially proud to be a lifetime member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated. We will miss his awesome wisdom, his indomitable, nurturing and quiet spirit, as well as his love and devotion to God, family and friends. Left to cherish his memories are a loving and dedicated wife of 56 years, Lucy Barnes Campbell; a son, Alfonso (Janet) and daughter, Sharon (Milton) C. Waters, four grandchildren, Alfonso III, Micah, Grace, and Nayo; and a host of relatives and friends. "Homegoing" Services will be held Friday, September 13, at 1 p.m. at Ebenezer Baptist Church. The Rev. Dr. Robert Murray, Pastor, First Baptist Church, Bute Street, will deliver the eulogy. His body will lie in state Thursday, September 12, at Fisher Funeral Home, 1528 Effingham Street, and on the day of the funeral from Noon until 1. Interment will be at Greenlawn Memorial Cemetery in Chesapeake. In lieu of flowers please send memorial gifts to the Office of Development, Hampton University, Hampton, VA 23668, c/o Alfonso L. Campbell Sr. Endowed Scholarship.
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Published in Daily Press on Sept. 12, 2002