The Tennessee Volunteers lost a lifelong fan and alumnus on Monday, February 14, when Dr. Joe David Campbell passed away after a hard-fought battle with heart disease and pancreatic cancer. Much like his beloved team who faced many a battle on the gridiron, Campbell came into the world a fighter and spent the last several years of his life taking on health issues while simultaneously “winning” when it came to family and fun. “Joe Joe”, as he was called by those who loved him, definitely put up his dukes.
Born March 14, 1946, in Greenfield, Tennessee, to the late Henry and Geneva Campbell, the future pharmacist spent his beginning years overcoming a club foot, which meant wearing braces. However, once he shed the corrective wear, he claimed his place on the playing field in sports, riding horses, and being an all-around teenager. Short in stature, he was steeled by a stubborn streak and strengthened by a mischievousness that showed up in the sparkle in his eye, questioning grin, and frequent laughter.
A 1964 graduate of Greenfield High School, he attended the University of Tennessee at Martin where he pledged Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and met his future bride, Lee Yarbro, early in 1966. The couple married in the summer of 1966 in a union no doubt crystalized when Lee helping him pass Chemistry, an important subject for a soon-to-be pharmacist. Campbell soon joined the family business, John Yarbro Farms in Dyersburg, and then took his bride to Memphis where he enrolled at the University of Tennessee pharmacy school. During this time, these die-hard Tennessee fans would make the long trek to and from Knoxville on game days, dressed in their finest with their best friends in tow. Joe loved his VOLS to the extent that one of his final wishes was to have visited Neyland Stadium one more time.
His pharmacy career began with Walgreens in Memphis then Super X and then on to Revco. In the early 1990’s, he fulfilled a lifelong dream of owning his own drug store. Suburban Hills Drugs in Knoxville, Tennessee, allowed him to make memories and enjoy self-employment. He eventually retired after one final stint behind the counter at CVS. But his return to Dyersburg, saw him take to the role one last time at Kroger.
The couple welcomed first one son Brad, then a second John-Ben who later became known as JB and, finally, daughter Amanda. Baseball, football, swimming, cheerleading, and church programs became the focus of their days as their children excelled and secured their place as the pride and joy of their lives.
In the early 2000’s, life brought the transplanted east Tennesseans back to Dyersburg to be closer to Joe’s brother Roy. Reconnecting with his lifelong hero and a Navy veteran, meant the younger sibling could hone his golf and fishing skills and, most importantly, spend time with his big brother. Both were members of the West Tennessee Seniors Golf organization, and both enjoyed traveling with wives Lee and Sharon, playing golf, eating their fair share of seafood, and investing in their “golden years” together.
A lifelong Methodist, as illness began to claim more of his stamina, Campbell said that he was not afraid of what was to come, but he didn’t want to leave the ones that were most precious to him -- his wife, children and grand girls. His presence will be missed by all that knew and loved him.
Funeral services will be at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, February 19, 2022 in the Chapel of Curry Funeral Home officiated by Reverend Kelly Campbell with interment to follow in Fairview Cemetery.
The family will receive visitors Friday, February 18th from 5:00 p.m.- 7:00 p.m. at the funeral home.
Honoring Joe by serving as pallbearers will be Jeff Campbell, Jay Campbell, Chucky Moody, Patrick Turnage, Sonny Turnage, Jeff Belton, Jeff Ownby, and Jerry Beasley. Honorary pallbearers will be Jim Hampton, Travis Irvin, Dawson Whitkopf and the rest of the West Tennessee Seniors Golf Association. Joe is survived by his loving wife of almost 56 years, Lee Yarbro Campbell; two sons, Brad (Amy) and JB (Miranda); and one daughter, Amanda (Michael) Carlson; two granddaughters, Alaina Katherine and Ella Marie Campbell.
Joe is preceded in death by his parents, three brothers Bennie Robert, Jerry Lynn and Roy Oliver; one sister, Sara Ann; and one grandson, Everett Guy Carlson.
Memorials can be made to Reelfoot Rural Ministries, c/o Robert Craig, 6923 Minnick Elbridge Road, Obion, TN 38240 or Dyersburg- Dyer County Humane Society, P.O. Box 223, Dyersburg, TN 38025.
Funeral services are under the direction of Curry Funeral Home. We are privileged and honored to serve the Campbell family. You may share your condolences and your memories with the family at www.curryfuneral.com.