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Friends remember 'great man'

How could someone of such small stature cast such a large shadow?

Scott Craker asked himself that question 100 times over the years about the man who once worked down the hall, Rod Campbell.

Craker sat in his office last week at Campbell Lumber struggling to find the right words to say about his former boss — a man more like family than an employer of over 40-plus years.

Craker fought back tears and spoke of the company's president after his death Feb. 1, just days before Campbell's 93rd birthday. Craker reflected on a long, well-lived life of a sensible man; Campbell had been a mentor since Craker was 17. It suddenly made sense how some of Campbell's stature could cast such a large shadow.

Because Campbell could — and did.

By words, presence and example, Campbell taught Craker and others with a grasp for business, hard-knock education, sharing of life experiences and hard work.

Craker, like others, learned the value of hard work.

It was the true measure of a man who helped many build a dream and project, making a real difference in the lives of many in Superior, the hometown he loved with a passion.

"He did a lot for a lot of people. And, he always made sure people were taken care of, but I have to be honest. He was liked but he was also feared, big time," Craker said. "Oh God, he was a tiger, a real bulldog, a fighter. And, all I know for certain is I would not be sitting here today if it were not for him."

When Craker faced his own adversity, had half of his lung removed and the most numbing, life-altering news one can get in his prime, it was Campbell who came and was there standing in his living room — bigger than life itself — hammering his fist and telling Craker he was not going to die and to get back to work.

Campbell was there when needed, not just that day or for Craker, but for so many others, every single day of his life, making a difference, taking an interest in everything around him. And that is his legacy.

Work drove him to the front doors of the business on Tower Avenue built in 1915 with the motto "Do It Best" until the very last stroke of life.

Campbell also worked quietly without wanting any recognition for the community.

Strong-willed and strong in faith, Campbell was decorated with two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star after being hit twice within a few hellish hours on the frontline as an Army medic.

He never stopped providing aid, serving on boards for a wide range of civic, fraternal, service and charitable organizations, crossing every aspect of life in Superior.

"He was a listener who was full of questions," Craker said.

Craker said he will never forget the door of his office closing a couple of weeks ago, and how he felt when Campbell asked him a question he waited a lifetime to answer: Was Campbell a good man?

Craker said he responded, "No, I don't think so ... I think you are a great man." It was something Craker always wanted to tell his former boss.

Campbell, a third-generation businessman in Superior, will be remembered at 10 a.m. Saturday at Concordia Lutheran Church, with a tribute luncheon to follow at the Elks Club. The stories that will be told will surely cross every aspect of life in Superior.

The Measure of a Man

Not — How did he die? But how did he live

Not — What did he gain? What did he give?

These are the things that measure the worth

Of a man as a man, regardless of birth

Not — What was his station? But had he a heart

And — How did he play — his God-given part?

Was he ever ready with a word of good cheer?

To bring back a smile to banish a tear?

Not — What was his church? Not what was his creed?

But — Had he befriended those really in need?

Not — What did this sketch in the newspaper say?

How many were sorry when he passed away?

These are the things that measure the worth

Of a man as a man, regardless of birth