Donald Powell Campbell, 87; wrote a history of Eagles

Donald P. Campbell
Donald P. Campbell
Posted: October 28, 2013

Donald Powell Campbell, 87, of Whitemarsh Township, who wrote a history of the Philadelphia Eagles after retiring from the defense-contracting business, died Wednesday, Oct. 23, of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

When Sunday's Warriors - painstakingly assembled from player interviews and old records - was released, it won acclaim from the City Council.

The work included thumbnail accounts of all 821 games played between 1933 and 1993, and the names of all 1,040 Eagles who played during that time.

In a Sept. 29, 1994, resolution, Council called Mr. Campbell "an extraordinary Philadelphian" and his 672-page book "the most interesting and detailed history of the Philadelphia Eagles ever written."

"He loved the Eagles and had a burning desire to immortalize the club by writing its history and preserving its traditions for posterity," the resolution said.

Before his literary phase, Mr. Campbell spent 40 years researching and writing contracts for RCA, Magnavox, and General Electric for customers that included the U.S armed forces and foreign governments.

Mr. Campbell was part of the team that designed and produced pieces of the Apollo lunar module's communications system for NASA. He retired in 1991.

Raised in Southwest Philadelphia, Mr. Campbell graduated from Central High School in 1943. He served in the Marine Corps from December 1943 to March 1946 and was honorably discharged with the rank of corporal. He fought in the Okinawa campaign as an artilleryman during World War II.

While he was overseas, his mother, Anna Powell, a Philadelphia schoolteacher, died of a stroke. His only sibling, Army Staff Sgt. Charles W. Campbell Jr., 24, was killed in action in Germany on April 27, 1945.

"If it wasn't for him, I probably never would have written this book," Mr. Campbell told the Philadelphia Daily News in 1994. "My build didn't warrant my participation in sports . . . but my brother made sure I played. He'd always drag me along to his games."

Over the years, Mr. Campbell became interested in the Eagles and attended their games at the old Shibe Park, then at Franklin Field, and finally at Veterans Stadium.

In retirement, he looked for a project. "Everybody's got a book in them," he told the Daily News.

An active volunteer, Mr. Campbell coached Little League baseball for eight years while his sons played.

Also an amateur actor and singer, he performed with the Whitemarsh Curtain Callers, a drama company that staged musicals at Plymouth Whitemarsh High School. He played the role of Frank in Brigadoon and Judge Carnes in Oklahoma!

He took up acting to counter a panic attack he experienced while speaking in public. "I always admired him for this," his son Charles W. Campbell said.

At the time of his death, Mr. Campbell was writing his memoirs and had almost finished chronicling his military service.

"He was upbeat, had a wonderful sense of humor, and was a great storyteller," his son said.

In addition to his son, Mr. Campbell is survived by his wife, the former Claire Pergola; another son, Daniel P.; daughters Pamela Gontram and Donna Totaro; and 10 grandchildren.

Services are private.


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