Hero Behind the Scenes
By Mary Jacoby Hastings
There is an individual from the San Fernando, California-area who has devoted years of his life to the residents of Ken-Caryl Ranch. He is just one of the many people working behind the scenes to help make this community the best it can be. Once a regular fixture around the Community Center, you will find Don Campbell more often at the Ranch House these days. That is when he is not running errands for Ken-Caryl Ranch or taking items home to fix on his own time to make life more comfortable for KCR staff and residents alike.
Raised on a dairy farm in the 1930s and 40s, Don is no stranger to hard work. Up before dawn each day, he would climb up on a stool at the kitchen sink to help his mother make breakfast for the boarders on the farm before heading off to school. By the age of six, Don helped in the fields by driving a hay truck to feed over 1,100 dairy cattle each day. In addition to playing high school football, Don spent many hours helping to run the family farm. He joined the Army upon graduating from high school and married his childhood sweetheart, Marilyn, a year later.
The staff and residents of Ken-Caryl Ranch have benefited tremendously from Don’s strong work ethic. It isn’t unusual to see Don coming into the Ranch House in the morning with a chair, a lamp or even the screen from the audio-visual room at the Ranch House because he was up the night before, at home, fixing whatever needed to be fixed at Ken-Caryl Ranch. It is important to Don that things work right and everyone is safe; but beware...if Don happens to overhear a discussion about something that needs to be done, he’s on top of it before you can finish the conversation. Don is also the person within the organization that sees to it that community meetings are properly set up with table, chairs, projectors, and whatever might be needed to run an efficient meeting. Don’s room meeting set-ups allow for Ranch business to be conducted in timely and organized manner.
Don is always on the lookout for safety hazards and quick to do whatever needs to be done to head off possible disasters whether that means building furniture or repairing a wall. His quality craftsmanship is especially evident on the specialty door he built for the Ranch House computer room, an area that needed ventilation yet had to be secured each evening. This semi-retired father who taught his four kids to excel in sports, enjoys fixing things and has done a lot of that because he cares so much about the safety and welfare of others.
One of the things staff appreciates most about Don is his upbeat “can do” attitude. At work Don is everyone’s adopted dad, grandfather or close friend. His efforts to completely retire have been thwarted more than once. Everybody loves having Don around and just won’t let him quit! The next time you see him busy with one project or another on the Ranch, stop and say, “Thank you.” Don truly is one of our heroes behind the scenes!