Doug Campbell, a retired Santa Rosa educator and newsman who earned a Silver Star for battlefield valor in Europe and possessed, quite often, the sharpest mind and wit in the room, died Friday at age 90.
Campbell had lived in Sonoma County for nearly 65 years when he moved a year ago to Frankfort, Michigan, to be closer to his son, Crispin Campbell. Just days ago he'd enjoyed dinner out with his son's family and with visiting daughter Caitlin Woodbury and her husband, who split their time between Santa Rosa and France.
"He was frail but OK," Crispin Campbell said Friday from Michigan. "Then, this morning, in about one minute he checked out."
Right to the end, he said, his father exhibited his "extremely generous heart," love of family, passion for knowledge and a sardonic sense of humor that regularly caught people off guard.
He said his dad was especially fond of an employee at his care home named Heather, and not long ago a second staffer who'd assisted him for about a year asked him if even he knew her name.
"You're not Heather," he answered.
Douglas Carroll Campbell grew up in Vallejo and was 19 and a student at the University of California at Berkeley when the United States entered World War II. Having received initial military training in the ROTC program at Cal, he enlisted in the Army and was admitted to officer training school.
He volunteered to join the elite Rangers, and made the cut. He was a 1st lieutenant when he took part, shortly after D-Day, in the invasion of Nazi-occupied France in mid-1944.
He'd advanced with Gen. George Patton's army into Germany when he was shot and severely wounded in February of 1945. Longtime friend and colleague Gaye LeBaron recounted in a 1987 column in The Press Democrat that during his 14 months in hospitals, generals Patton and Omar Bradley came in to award medals of valor.
Campbell told LeBaron that wounded men were "lying at attention" as the generals made their way down the row of cots.