I’ll never forget the first time I met Ted Campbell, years ago. He had arrived in his little black pick-up truck to bring us a donation of books. Unlike any other donation before or since, they were meticulously boxed by author and the titles further arranged in alphabetical order. It did not surprise us to read in his obituary that he’d kept a ledger of all the books he’d read since age 12: 3,659. More than a million pages. (I think there might have been a few extra pages in there as while pricing paperback books for us, he would sometimes dip in to read a page or two or ten.)
As a volunteer, Ted was all those things that his beautifully organized donation would suggest: caring, meticulous, orderly. What we would grow to learn and love about him was his wicked wit and rollicking sense of humor. Ever the raconteur, Ted had many fascinating stories to tell, and his eyes would twinkle when he’d pause to underscore a certain point.
Ted, 89 then, was at the fairgrounds nearly every day to help with the endless tasks of the annual Dayton Book Fair, where this photo was taken last November. Late this winter he came to tell me that he was going to take a little time off while his wife Becky was recovering from surgery, but he promised me that he’d be back in the spring. Then the pandemic came.
Ted shared a birthday with another volunteer and we used to jokingly refer to them as “the twins”— even though their birthdays are fifty years apart. Ted often caught a ride in from Yellow Springs with his “twin”, and it is fitting that it was she who let us know the very sad news that Ted slipped away from us last Tuesday morning, August 25th, peacefully, at home with his family.
His obituary, (linked here ) outlines Ted’s many achievements in life and his devotion to his community in Yellow Springs. We will all very much miss seeing him arrive on Thursday mornings, decked out in his U.S.S. Spinax cap, ready to price and sort half a dozen cartons of books. There will be other people to price those books, but there will never be another character like Ted Campbell. We were privileged to know him.