Gerald Stephen Campbell, 75, of Abilene was born on January 7, 1944, to William F. Campbell and Letha (Minyard) Campbell in Montebello, California and passed away Monday, December 23, 2019, in Abilene, Texas.
A funeral service will be held Monday, December 30, 2019, at 11 AM at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 3325 N. 12th, Abilene, Texas. Interment will follow at the Texas State Veterans Cemetery at Abilene. A visitation will be held Sunday, December 29 from 3 to 5 PM at the Elmwood Funeral Home, 5750 US HWY 277 S. Abilene, Texas.
Jerry was raised in California, with his family living in El Centro, Fresno, Paso Robles and Ontario. He attended Chaffey High School and then moved to the New Montclaire High School from which he graduated in 1962. Jerry attended Chaffey College but was forced to leave in order to provide for his mother and sisters due to his fathers unexpected death. Uncle Sam came knocking at his door and Jerry decided to join the Air Force instead of being inducted into the U.S. Army. He married Karen Knudsen in Amarillo, Texas on December 24, 1964. They were married 54 years and 364 days. Jerry and Karen lived an adventurous life while in the Air Force. The first 9 years saw them with 5 different base assignments. Their first assignment and home was Elmendorf AFB, Anchorage, Alaska. Their daughter Carol was born to them while they were in Alaska. Next the Air Force sent them to Norton AFB, San Bernadino. At Norton AFB Jerry was a loadmaster on the C141 Starlifter and flew many missions to Vietnam while stationed there. Jerry and Karen welcomed their son William in San Bernadino. Next the Air Force sent Jerry to Vietnam… he had many varied and harrowing experiences while there where he flew on the C123 Provider… many of these missions are still classified today. Next it was back to the United States, where he received the same treatment as all returning Vietnam vets of that time. The family was ordered to Forbes AFB in Topeka, Kansas where he flew on C130 Hercules airplane. This assignment began almost 13 years of temporary deployments all over the world on the C130 airplane. When Forbes AFB was closed the family moved to Dyess AFB in Abilene, Texas. Their third child and second son, Brian was born at Dyess AFB hospital. During Jerry’s Air Force career as a crew member he was unable to be home as often as he would have liked due to his deployments all over the world, ranging from one week to 6 months each. He often worried about how his absences would affect his children.
Jerry retired from the Air Force in 1985 and began his second career as a corporate pilot. He flew for several oil/bearing companies and then changed careers again to being the terminal manager for a charter bus company. He loved taking the youth of the Big Country to their many ball games, field trips and summer camps. His numerous health issues that were caused by Agent Orange which he sprayed while on the C123 in Vietnam, finally caught up to him and he retired officially for the third time in 2009. Jerry loved his family and friends and his church. Jerry loved to fly and teach others to fly. He enjoyed his time as the Gun Range Master at Abilene Indoor Gun Range and he never met a stranger.
Jerry was preceded in death by his parents, his two sisters and brothers-in-laws.
Jerry is survived by his wife, Karen Campbell; his daughter, Carol Wyatt and husband Darren; his son, William F. Campbell and daughter-in-law Tracy Campbell; his son, Brian Campbell; 8 grandchildren, Colby Wyatt and wife Linzye, Daylor Wyatt, Courtney Campbell, Brayden Wyatt, Ethan Wyatt, Ashleigh Campbell, Arrick Campbell and Kaelynn Campbell; 2 great-grandchildren.
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