HEATHSVILLE—Deborah B. Campbell died on October 31, 2017, after living with appendix cancer since 2006.
She was born on March 13, 1950, to Virginia and Jack Hoeveler, and joined her siblings David and Charlie in a magical childhood on the Connecticut coast. The rural landscape, beaches and Long Island Sound provided opportunities for free exploration, play and closeness with nature.
Debbie was a member of a family that valued education and love of learning, responsibility, curiosity and humor. Her brothers adored her and teased her, but also influenced her as much as her loving parents did.
Debbie attended public schools in Fairfield, Conn., graduating in 1968 from Roger Ludlowe High School and matriculating at Wheaton College in Massachusetts. As a college junior, she was one of 75 women who spent a year at Dartmouth College, which was historically all male.
In 1972, two weeks after she graduated from Wheaton with a bachelor’s in art history, she left her beloved New England for Atlanta, Ga. She worked in the graduate library at Emory University for one year and then entered graduate school there to earn a master of librarianship. Between 1974 and 2001, Debbie held positions at Pace Academy, Emory Graduate School of Education and Marist School.
Her joy in her work centered on connecting high school students with concepts beyond their experience, the art of research, her encouragement of independent thinking and the drive of curiosity.
One week after graduating from Wheaton, Debbie married David Emerson Bullard. He was a law student at Emory and they set up house in Atlanta where Debbie lived for the next 29 years. Together they raised two sons, Nat and Ethan Bullard, until the sudden, unexpected death of David in 1993.
Debbie continued to work at Marist but dedicated her life to being both mother and father to her sons, conveying high standards, actively and passively involving herself in their pursuits and encouraging their independent spirits. On the cusp of being a young empty-nester when Ethan prepared to leave for college, she met Robert Courtney Campbell. They married, quit their jobs and bought a small farm in Virginia, four miles from the western edge of the Chesapeake Bay.
Living in the Northern Neck, raising border collies and chickens, expanding their land to 72 acres and sailing their classic sailboat, “Tupelo Honey,” on the bay set the structure of her life until Debbie’s passing.
She was fortunate to fulfill her dream of living in the country on a farm, taking stewardship of her land seriously and joyfully. Never having lived in Virginia before, moving there felt like going home where friendships blossomed, roots were set, dreams fulfilled. Though an extremely rare cancer effected her health for so many years, she remained as active as she could, mentored other cancer survivors, gardened, read when she paused to sit down, played with her dogs, laughed and enjoyed her growing family.
Debbie’s family includes her devoted husband Bob; her sons and their wives, Nat and Shu-Jia Ma and their daughter, Avery Virginia An-Xin Bullard, and Ethan Bullard and Kelly Kerney.
Her stepchildren are Heather Campbell, husband Brian Davis and their daughter, Madeline, BJ Campbell and Buffy, and their children, Bobby and Daphne, and Scott Campbell and Melissa. Debbie is closely connected to her brothers David Hoeveler and Charlie Hoeveler and their families. Last but not least, she is survived by her dogs—caregivers and angels—Mac, Flow and Austin.
If Debbie’s friends wish to honor her life they may contribute to the animal rescue organization of their choice.
A celebration of the life of Debbie Campbell will take place at Wicomico Parish Church in Wicomico Church at a later date.