Mary J. Camp­bell

For­mer nurs­ery school teacher and or­thop­tist was an en­thu­si­as­tic world trav­eler and an avid bird-watcher

Baltimore Sun - - OBITUARIES - By Fred­er­ick N. Ras­mussen fras­mussen@balt­sun.com

Mary J. Camp­bell, an or­thop­tist who worked in eye care for nearly three decades and an ac­com­plished pi­anist, died of conges­tive heart fail­ure Satur­day at the Broad­mead re­tire­ment com­mu­nity in Cock­eysville. The for­mer Rux­ton res­i­dent was 93. “She was a very kind, gra­cious and grate­ful per­son,” said Mary Ellen Thom­sen, a friend who lives at Roland Park Place. “I first got to know her 54 years ago when our chil­dren were in the same nurs­ery school, and we’ve been friends ever since.”

“Mary Jo was a warm and car­ing per­son who had many, many friends who ap­pre­ci­ated her ever-present sense of hu­mor,” said Peggy C. Tali­a­ferro, a Broad­mead res­i­dent and a friend of 41 years.

The daugh­ter of Os­car Bernard Thomas, a phar­ma­cist with Thomas and Thompson Co., and Josephine Rein­dol­lar Thomas, a home­maker, Mary Josephine Thomas was born in Bal­ti­more and raised on En­gle­wood Road in Roland Park.

Mrs. Camp­bell, who was known as “Mary Jo,” at­tended Roland Park Coun­try School dur­ing the De­pres­sion but with­drew when her fam­ily could no longer af­ford the tu­ition. She at­tended pub­lic school, then was awarded a schol­ar­ship to Roland Park Coun­try School and grad­u­ated from there in 1941.

“The De­pres­sion had a last­ing ef­fect on her out­look,” her daugh­ter, Carol Camp­bell Hais­lip of Monk­ton, wrote in a pro­file of her mother’s life. “She worked and scrimped and saved all her young adult life to bet­ter her­self.”

She earned teach­ing ac­cred­i­ta­tion in early-child­hood ed­u­ca­tion from Columbia Univer­sity, then re­turned to Bal­ti­more to teach nurs­ery school at Roland Park Coun­try and Friends schools. Dur­ing World War II, she taught in gov­ern­ment-spon­sored nurs­ery schools, mostly in South Bal­ti­more.

Mrs. Camp­bell earned a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in or­thop­tics — the di­ag­no­sis and non­sur­gi­cal treat­ment of eye move­ment disor­ders — from the Wilmer Eye In­sti­tute of the Johns Hop­kins School of Medicine.

“In her writ­ten board and oral and prac­ti­cal ex­am­i­na­tion she placed sec­ond out of all can­di­dates in the U.S. and Canada,” her daugh­ter wrote.

From the early 1950s un­til re­tir­ing in 1988, Mrs. Camp­bell worked as an or­thop­tist, first for Dr. Ar­nall Patz and then for Dr. Joseph W. Berkow, who took over Dr. Patz’s prac­tice at Falls Road and Cold Spring Lane in 1970.

“I in­her­ited Mary Jo when I took over Dr. Patz’s prac­tice, and she was a very lovely per­son,” said Dr. Berkow. “There are very few in this field, and as a trained or­thop­tist, what she did was mea­sure the de­vi­a­tion in the eyes of chil­dren that were not straight.

“She loved what she did, and she loved the chil­dren,” he said.

In ad­di­tion to her pro­fes­sional life, Mrs. Camp­bell stud­ied pi­ano at the Pe­abody Con­ser­va­tory.

“Not many peo­ple knew that she did that, and mu­sic was a life­long love,” her daugh­ter said.

In 1955, she mar­ried S. James Camp­bell, an ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of Harry T. Camp­bell & Sons Co., a sand and gravel com­pany. The firm later tran­si­tioned into a plan­ning and de­vel­op­ment com­pany that worked on White Marsh and other de­vel­op­ments through­out the state.

The cou­ple built a home on In­dian Head Road in Rux­ton, where they lived for 50 years and raised three chil­dren.

Her hus­band died in 1988, and Mrs. Camp­bell con­tin­ued liv­ing in their home for 16 years un­til mov­ing to Broad­mead in 2004.

She was an avid bird-watcher, bi­cy­clist and gar­dener. She was also a world trav­eler and had vis­ited all seven con­ti­nents. Her last in­ter­na­tional trip was a sa­fari to Kenya and Tan­za­nia with her fam­ily in 2008.

Dot Gustafson, also a Broad­mead res­i­dent, shared an in­ter­est in bird­ing with Mrs. Camp­bell.

“She had a re­mark­able life and was the most well-trav­eled per­son that I’ve ever known. She al­ways loved to be on the go and … made an im­pact on those who knew her,” said Mrs. Gustafson.

“She was a mem­ber of the Bal­ti­more Bird Club, which is the Bal­ti­more Chap­ter of the Mary­land Or­nitho­log­i­cal So­ci­ety, and lo­cally we’d go bird­ing at Robert E. Lee Park and Cromwell Val­ley Park,” she said. “She went to Alaska, and so did I, but we went at dif­fer­ent times. She al­ways trav­eled with a pair of binoc­u­lars.” “She was an ab­so­lutely lovely per­son to travel with. She was fun all of the time and loved an ad­ven­ture,” Mrs. Tali­a­ferro said.

“She chose ex­otic des­ti­na­tions for her trips and didn’t want to go to Eng­land or Paris. Wewent to South Amer­ica, took a trip down the Ama­zon, and to Cuba,” she said. “And she al­ways worked in a morn­ing of bird­ing. She was such an ar­dent trav­eler who never wanted [her trips] to end.”

Mrs. Camp­bell and her hus­band also en­joyed en­ter­tain­ing and at­tend­ing par­ties.

“She loved to en­ter­tain at din­ner par­ties at her Rux­ton home and loved to cook,” Mrs. Tali­a­ferro said.

“My hus­band and I started a black-tie New Year’s Eve party in 1964, and she came ev­ery year un­til last year,” Mrs. Thom­sen said.

“When she moved to Broad­mead, she wanted to make sure that she had all of her New Year’s Eve dresses.”

She had served on the boards of the Mary­land So­ci­ety for Sight and the Hamp­ton Man­sion Na­tional His­toric Site.

Mrs. Camp­bell was a mem­ber of the Daugh­ters of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion, and for more than 50 years was a mem­ber of L’Hiron­delle Club and the Woman’s Club of Roland Park.

For more than 60 years. she was an ac­tive mem­ber of Brown Me­mo­rial Pres­by­te­rian Church Wood­brook, 6200 N. Charles St., where fu­neral ser­vices will be held at 10 a.m. Thurs­day.

In ad­di­tion to her daugh­ter, Mrs. Camp­bell is sur­vived by two sons, S. James Camp­bell of Sali­nas, Calif., and Alexan­der Thomas Camp­bell of Cen­ter Sand­wich, N.H.; and seven grand­chil­dren. Mary J. Camp­bell was a pi­anist and stud­ied at the Pe­abody Con­ser­va­tory.

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