ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — A pioneer in the cattle industry was given a cowboy sendoff on Wednesday, Aug. 18 when local dignitaries joined family and friends to pay tribute to George Campbell at the Baldwin County Coliseum.
George William Campbell, known by many as “Uncle George” died Sunday, Aug. 15 at the age of 80 in Robertsdale, where he lived his entire life.
More than 100 guests paid their respects the following Wednesday, including municipal and county leaders, legislators and representatives from the Baldwin County Cattle & Fair Association and the Baldwin County and Alabama Cattlemen’s Association.
Born Nov. 30, 1940, the son of W.M. “Bill” and Lucille Campbell, he grew up on his father’s dairy farm and worked at the Robertsdale Livestock Auction from the time it opened in 1950, until the final auction was held in 2014.
Campbell served as a Board member of the Baldwin County Cattle and Fair Association for 40 years, including many years as president and was a longtime member of the Baldwin County Cattlemen’s Association, having been named a lifetime Board member.
Campbell was a charter member of the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Posse and a 25-year member of the Robertsdale Masonic Lodge #821.
“It is an honor to be able to get to speak on behalf of the family and on behalf of the Sheriff’s Department,” said Baldwin County Sheriff Huey “Hoss” Mack Jr. “George lived a great life. He lived a great life in support of his family and this community.”
Campbell served with the Sheriff’s Posse under three sheriff’s, Buck Benton, Jimmy Johnson and Mack. Campbell’s saddle, along with a photo of him on horseback in uniform, was on display during Wednesday’s service.
“He was always willing to help out with finding criminals, and rescuing those who were lost,” Mack said. “And he was always willing to work with young deputies, telling them that they could see a lot more on horseback than from the ground.”
Mack, who grew up with and graduated from high school with Campbell’s niece Ruthie, said he probably saw George Campbell before he actually remembered him.
“My first remembrance of seeing George was when I was 8 years old and decided to walk to school,” he said. “I saw this man on horseback in the middle of the highway in front of the Livestock Auction. Back then, the Livestock Auction operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and he was always there to keep things in line.”
Mack said Campbell was always willing to help wherever it was needed.
“I think the best way we can remember someone is to do what they would do,” he said. “That’s the challenge we have today is to go out and help others the way George Campbell helped others.”
Campbell loved to devote his life to being around kids and teaching them to throw a rope and ride horses.
“Not everyone called him Uncle but that’s how a lot of us thought of him,” Mack said. “”Thank you for what you taught us, ‘Uncle George.’”
That sentiment was echoed by Campbell’s grand nephew Kyle Irwin, a professional steer wrestler and five-time qualifier for the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
“I love what I do and I love this life and I owe a lot of that to him,” Irwin said during Wednesday’s service. “He taught me to be a good steward, a good steward of the land, of animals and of people.”
Irwin said the three main lessons he learned from Campbell were, “be patient, have sense and don’t weaken,” telling stories to illustrate each one.
“Uncle George was the most patient person I’ve ever known,” Irwin said. “But he also taught me that having patience means nothing if you don’t have sense.”
While not weakening might be a trait more often observed from his grandfather, Bruce Campbell, Irwin said, the trait is best learned by not bending in the face of adversity.
The ceremony, followed by graveside services at Baldwin Memorial Cemetery in Robertsdale, was officiated by Wayland Stuckey. On display at the cemetery was the traditional cowboy sendoff of a riderless horse.
Campbell was preceded in death by his parents and his brother and a sister, Emma Jean Nichols. Survivors include his sister, Kay (Sonny) Hinote, nieces, Ruthie Campbell, Emma Lee Bundy, Allison Price and Chelsea Spivey; and nephew, Charlie Gates, and a host of grand nieces and nephews.
The family requests memorial donations be made to the Robertsdale United Methodist Church, P. O. Box 866, Robertsdale, AL 36567.