Ralph Nelson Campbell, Jr., 70, passed away December 31, 2020, at Jefferson Memorial Hospital, Jefferson City, Tennessee of complications from Covid pneumonia, and a pre-existing lung condition. Ralph was born in Trenton, New Jersey, to Edith and Ralph Campbell, Sr. and was the third of four children in a tight knit family. His family moved to Saint Petersburg, Florida, in 1953. Ralph attended Pinellas County schools, graduating from Saint Petersburg High School in 1968. He Served honorably in the USMC during the Vietnam war, from 1969 to 1971, graduating from Parris Island as a PFC and reaching the rank of corporal while serving as a machine gun instructor during his last year of active duty.
In 1974, Ralph met the love of his life, Cheryl Dauphin. The couple married and had two daughters. In 1978 a move to Morristown, TN, began a career in several restaurant management jobs. Attending Carson Newman College and graduating in 1986 with a degree in Business Management, Ralph left the restaurant business, and went to work for Golden Rule Insurance Company. This necessitated a move to northern Ohio for six years. Longing to return to Tennessee, Ralph then went to work for Pyramid Life Insurance Company, and happily retired in 2005 as a Vice President of recruiting.
Over the next fifteen years, realizing what a gift they had been given to retire early, “Fun to the End” became their mantra. Ralph & cheryl traveled, spent summers in Canada fishing and golfing, and the last three summers in Maine. There they became familiar with the non-profit organization Wreaths Across America. Having an immense love of country and being an extremely proud Marine, it was a natural fit. Plans were made to return the following summer and do volunteer work.
Ralph was a very gifted stained glass artist. Returning from that first trip to Maine, he immediately began designing a 5 x 5‘ square window for a project they were embarking on, a Gold Star House and Museum. This will become a B&B of sorts, as well as a museum. His goal was to see the house completed and open.
Ralph was a very unique, positive, artistic, loving, kind, proud man, and was loved by all who met him. He belonged to Dandridge First United Methodist Church, and he and Cheryl made the stained glass windows in the sanctuary. He enjoyed fishing, glamping, golfing, time with family, and UT football games in his man cave with friends and family. He enjoyed lighting his house up at Christmas time with Clark Griswald enthusiasm.
Ralph is survived by his wife of 46 years, Cheryl; daughters, Jessica (Mike) Johnson, and Megan (John) Maple, granddaughters Alexa Dooley and Isabelle Johnson; grandsons Samuel and Salem Maple, and great-grandson, Carson Ledford. He also has two sisters and a brother along with nieces and nephews in Florida.
A military funeral with a celebration of life service will be conducted later on in the year, hopefully when Covid lessens and the weather is better. His cremains will be interred at East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery. Memorial donations can be made to Wreath’s Across America, Gold Star House.