Josephine Campbell, family matriarch

Josephine Campbell
Josephine Campbell
Posted: January 24, 2014

The year was 1946. He was Bill Campbell, eventually to become one of the area's best-loved sportscasters, then just a young announcer returning to radio station WIP in Philadelphia after World War II.

She was Josephine DeCesaris, the boss' secretary. Gracious but efficient, she ran the joint. And she was very pretty.

One day in September of that year, DeCesaris asked Campbell if he would like to come with her to see a play. The boss, Ben Gimbel, had given her tickets. The play was What Every Woman Knows.

Women asking men for a first date wasn't usual in 1946, but Campbell was quick to agree.

"I think he thought he was the luckiest guy in the building," their daughter, Christine Anne Campbell, said Wednesday, speaking for the family.

A few days later, he took her to an Eagles game. By December, they were engaged. They wed in June. What followed was a 67-year marriage that embraced a daughter, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Josephine "Jo" Campbell, 94, a Camden native and Woodrow Wilson High School graduate who lived with her husband for most of the last 35 years in Haddonfield, died Monday, Jan. 20, after suffering a stroke the week before. In the last year, the couple were living in an independent living residence in Marlton.

"She was the best example of how to live a good life you could have," her daughter, a lawyer and Cherry Hill resident, said.

A devoted homemaker, Mrs. Campbell was also a gifted seamstress, an avid bridge player, a solver of crosswords, and an artful decorator who would dote on her grandchildren and great-grandchildren as her "doll babies." But she was anything but a typical woman of her time.

"My mother was a very unusual individual. My mom was very self-reliant," her daughter said. "I think her years working opened the world to her."

She would talk about how during the war, the station would get the first dispatches of what was going on overseas: "It gave her a sense of being in touch with what was going on in the world."

As Bill Campbell built his career as a sportscaster, he had to travel a lot. He could go assured that his wife could handle the household on her own.

But theirs was a true love story - playful, warm, with lots to talk about.

"My mother robbed the cradle," her daughter said, laughing. "She was four years older than my father. He never let her forget it."

And she was her husband's biggest fan. She came to just about every Eagles home game to hear him announce. And of course, sports was another thing they had to talk about.

During their years in Haddonfield, the couple were members of Christ the King Catholic Church and the Tavistock Country Club.

In addition to her husband and daughter, Mrs. Campbell is survived by two grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

A viewing at Christ the King Church, 200 Windsor Ave., Haddonfield, N.J. 08033, will be Friday, Jan. 24, from 6 to 8 p.m. A viewing also will be held at the church at 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, followed by a Funeral Mass at 11. Entombment will be at Calvary Cemetery, Cherry Hill.

Donations may be made to the church at the address above.


rgiordano@phillynews.com

856-779-3893 @ritagiordano

 

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