Jacqueline Denning “Jackie” Campbell, 97, died on Thursday, March 2, 2023. She was born on May 12, 1925 in Tye River, Va. to Lillie Canody Denning and Charles Bright Denning. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 69 years, Theodore Harrison “Gene” Campbell, Jr.; her parents; her two brothers, Charles Thomas Denning and Emmett Mahoney Denning; and her sister, Helen Davis Warren.
Jackie is survived by her five children: T.H. “Ted” Campbell, III, Sue Ford (Garry), and Terry Zatrepalek (Don) all of Lynchburg, Mary Beth Holm (Charley) of Ashburn, Va., and Laura Wright (Bill) of Marshall, Va. She was “Mawy” to seven grandchildren: Lauren Ford Tiffany (Jeb) of Roanoke, Va., Jackie Wright Ly of Sterling, Va., Sallie Ford Post (Chris) of Portland, Ore., Emily Wright (Ed Keithly) of Richmond, Va., Cory Holm (Eva) of Sofia, Bulgaria, Lydia Wright of Chicago, Ill., and Natalie Holm of Ashburn, Va.; and great-grandchildren: Eliza and Wyatt Tiffany of Roanoke, Teo Holm of Sofia, Bulgaria, and Graham Wright-Keithly of Richmond, Va. She is also survived by her sister-in-law, Phyllis Campbell of Brookneal, Va.; and many nieces and nephews.
Jackie’s birth name was Mary Jacqueline Denning. The story goes that her parents were each advised separately one day to name the baby “Mary Jacqueline,” and so ultimately they did.
Having skipped a grade in school, Jackie graduated from Lynchburg High School just after her 17th birthday. All her children have fond memories of her high school girlfriends who maintained a lifetime friendship. Following high school, she graduated from Phillips Business College. It was during her employment at the office of Patterson Drug Store that she met Gene. Once the children were older, she returned to the workforce and was the parish secretary at St. John’s Episcopal Church until her retirement.
For many years, Jackie was ever busy on the homefront with her wonderful cooking (her pies at her 40-person Thanksgiving dinners were a big hit), gardening, needlework, volunteering as a story reader at her children’s elementary school, and tending to her family’s needs.
She had a true gift for the English language and all its mysteries when it came to spelling, grammar, and writing. Words really mattered to her. A true Southern raconteur, her own stories often moved her listeners to laughter and perhaps just as often, to tears. She had a keen mind and knew how to use her words to welcome someone, to empathize with someone, and to make someone think about something in a whole new light. She commented one time that as a mother, she was careful not to use the word “no” too much, so that when she did use it, her children knew she meant it.
She had a songbird’s voice and loved to sing hymns, often whispering to her children as they sang in church to “listen to the words.” As the Alzheimer’s continued to rob her of her words, she never stopped singing, to the enjoyment of the nursing home and her family, even resorting at times to her own lyrics and melody as she approached the end of her life.
Her faith in her Lord was woven throughout every aspect of her life, and well into her senior years, she continued to kneel down by her bedside each night to pray. She was a longtime, faithful member of Lynchburg’s First Presbyterian Church, its Stewart-Boswell class, and the Presbyterian Women’s Circle, and taught Sunday School for many years. She also served on numerous church committees and with the Shriners Noblettes.
Jackie and her husband, Gene, loved to dance. They were very confident and skilled dancers, who actually met at an Elks Club dance (an entanglement with a palm plant, which sent Gene’s glasses flying, did not deter them). One might say their years spent together were a dance of love, of lively conversation, laughter mixed with tears, and taking turns with one another on who needed to be the strong one. For an early 25th wedding anniversary celebration, they flew to Hawaii for Gene’s photography convention, tacking on days for sightseeing. Never having flown before, Jackie went on to fly nine times on that trip. Theirs was indeed a long and loving dance.
Jackie loved her large family “to pieces,” as she liked to say, and looked forward every year to holiday and beach time with her grandkids and great grandkids. The family wishes to thank the staff at Liberty Ridge Health and Rehab for their skilled care and compassion shown to both Gene and Jackie over the last several years.
A celebration of Jackie’s life will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 15, 2023 at First Presbyterian Church.
Memorial contributions may be made to First Presbyterian Church, 1215 VES Rd. Lynchburg, VA 24503; and online to Shriners Hospitals for Children, at donate.lovetotherescue.org.
Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Lynchburg, is assisting the family.