March 26, 1927 — Feb. 15, 2013
Robert Kenneth Campbell died in his sleep last Friday, Feb. 15, at Regent Court.
He was born March 26, 1927, in Highmore, S.D., to Wallace W. and Hazel Higgins Campbell.
He grew up on a ranch 10 miles north of Ree Heights and attended a one-room school where he won the first and most memorable award of his academic career: an ice cream cone presented on the courthouse steps for being the best first-grade student in Hand County. Later he earned his own key to the one-room Ree Heights Library, for being its most loyal user.
When he was a senior in high school his family moved to Aberdeen, S.D., where he graduated. In 1945 he left a life of horseback riding, muskrat trapping and ranch work when he was drafted into the U.S Army, and he quickly advanced to the rank of corporal before the clerical error was discovered.
His most enduring war-time memories were of helping relocate the displaced and dispossessed in Germany, and of the destructive prejudice he saw there and at home in the United States, in Texas, during his basic training.
He returned to Aberdeen and attended Northern State Teachers College for one year before moving west to the University of Montana, where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1951. Summers spent working in the forests of Idaho convinced him that he wanted to work outdoors, and an aptitude for science led him into forest science and silviculture genetics, for which he received a doctorate from the University of Washington in 1958.
In 1955 he married another botany student, Alcetta (Alsie) Gilbert, daughter of Tinkham and Elizabeth Gilbert of Salem. They were married for the rest of his life.
After graduate school, Bob joined the faculty at the U of W College of Forestry and taught there until 1962, when he joined Weyerhaeuser’s research unit in Centralia, Wash., and initiated its program to genetically improve farmed forests. In 1967 he became a research plant geneticist in the U.S. Forest Service’s Forest Sciences Laboratory in Corvallis, where his research centered on the genecology and quantitative genetics of forest tree species.
Results of his own work and his work with Forest Science colleagues and with faculty and students at UW and Oregon State University were internationally published in journals of genetics, ecology and botany.
While Bob was preparing a critique of the Norwegian forest genetics program, he and his family spent the 1972-1973 year in the delightful college town of Aas, Norway. When Bob retired in 1992, he felt he had been blessed to have worked with exceptionally good and pleasant people all of his professional life.
He liked coffee-talks with his friends, reading, pre-war jazz and classical music, birding, walking and horses.
He is survived by his wife, Alsie; his sons, Russell, Kelly and Randall; daughter-in-law Mary; and his grandsons, Ryan and Rory.
At his expressed wish, there will be no memorial services. Gifts in his memory can be made to the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library.