Mr. Milton "Milt" Gray Campbell, Sr., age 78, of Gainesville, Ga., formerly of Plainfield, N.J., passed away peacefully at his residence surrounded by his loving family.|
Funeral services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, at Memorial Park North Riverside Chapel. The Rev. Sandra Smith and the Rev. James Smith will officiate. The family will receive friends from 4-8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, at the funeral home.
Milt was born on Dec. 9, 1933, in Plainfield, N.J., and was the son of the late Thomas Campbell and Edith Ella (Palmer) Campbell.
A rising high school senior when he won the silver medal in the decathlon at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, finishing second to Bob Mathias. The Americans swept the decathlon that year.
Four years later, Milt became the first African-American to win the gold medal in the decathlon at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia. He went on to play professional football for the Cleveland Browns, the Canadian Football League and he was also a successful motivational speaker.
Milt was inducted into the National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1999, and was honored this year by the International Swimming Hall of Fame. In 2000, the New Jersey Sportswriters Association named Campbell its New Jersey Athlete of the Century. In June of 2012, he was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame along with nine others, including actor Michael Douglas, author Joyce Carol Oates and the late New York Giants owner Wellington Mara.
He graduated from Indiana University, and received his Honorary Doctorate from Monmouth University in West Long Branch, N.J. He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Thomas Campbell Jr. and a son, Milton Campbell Jr.
Milt is survived by his life partner, Linda Rusch, Gainesville, Ga.; daughter, Julee Campbell, Paramount, Calif.; son, Justin Campbell, Ocean Park, Wash.; son, Milton Campbell III, Plainfield, N.J.; sister and brother-in-law, Sandra and Jim Smith, Randallstown, Md.; he is also survived by his granddaughter, Taria Campbell and great-grandson, Nathaniel Johnsen, both of Simi Valley, Calif.; he was also a surrogate father to Heather Rusch, Michael Rusch and Dorianne Taylor.
Milt will be missed so very much by his family and friends. He was a man of great integrity. He had a keen mind filled with positive thoughts, tenderness, consideration for others and love. He loved life, his beautiful home in Georgia and often a good cigar looking at the mountains.
Memorial Park North Riverside Chapel, 989 Riverside Drive, Gainesville, GA 30501. 770-297-6200. Online condolences at www.memorialparkfuneralhomes.com
Published in gainesvilletimes.com on Nov. 5, 2012