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85th birthday celebration being held for Wilbert Campbell, a true public servant

Featured photo: Wilbert E. Campbell

Photos provided by Jeffrey Campbell

Written by Tanya Terry

The 85th Birthday Celebration for Wilbert E. Campbell takes place at 2 -5 p.m. on Saturday, July 29, at Grace Emmanuel Baptist Church Fellowship Hall.

Jeffrey Campbell told the Courier why he feels the celebration is important to Flint.

“Dad has been a constant member of the community, involved in community some 50 plus years, whether it be in athletics and coaching kids, or if it’s in ministry and preaching the Word and teaching the Word,” stated Jeffrey Campbell. “All over the city and state, he has had relationships with different effective leaders-bishops in the city. He’s also been a chaplain at the jail, as well as the hospitals. So, he’s dedicated a lot of his life to being a servant.”

Wilbert E. Campbell

Jeffrey Campbell, Wilbert E. Campbell’s son, has been helping to plan his father’s birthday celebration. Jeffrey Campbell’s wife, Pamela Campbell, has also been helping with the plans.

“We’re planning for 60 guests,” Campbell stated.

These guests have been receiving invitations to celebrate during this special time.

His son pointed out that the fact his father is turning 85 makes this birthday a special one!

“The other point is, he’s the last of all his siblings,” said Jeffrey Campbell.

He also stated there are no siblings left on his mother’s side of the family.

The family has not had a reunion in at least six years, and Jeffrey Campbell said the upcoming celebration is an opportunity for the family to come together for a good occasion. Other community members whose lives have been touched by Wilbert Campbell and his good works are also going to attend.

Wilbert Campbell

“The attributes that stand out to me with regard to my dad, one is, he can relate to anyone. He is able to converse and engage conversation, which turns into ministry, with anyone-race, creed or color. Also, he has what I call ridiculous faith. He has just an insane faith walk and truly believes all promises of God will come through whenever he needs them to come through. He has amazed me in his faith walk. He loves the Word of God. He loves teaching. He loves athletics. He loves sports. He’s played, coached, even sponsored teams. He coached some of my little league teams when I was growing up.”

Jeffrey Campbell also described his father as “a character.”

“He loves to make people laugh and can talk mess with the best of ‘em, but it’s always clean.”

Wilbert Campbell has pastored three different churches: 1st-Auburn Avenue Baptist Church in Bellefontaine, Ohio; 2nd– Galilee Church in Flint and 3rd– New Life Missionary Baptist Church in Flint.

“The third church was organically started from the basement of the house.”

Wilbert Campbell retired from his career as a pastor, with the last church he pastored being New Life.

Jeffrey Campbell told the Courier why the celebration is being held at Grace Emmanuel.

“Before Dad began pastoring, Grace Emmanuel was our home church for a few decades,” explained Jeffrey Campbell. “Since he has retired, he is returning his membership back to Grace Emmanuel.”

Wilbert Campbell also had a significant role with the Flint Courier News.

“Pastor Campbell was a board member,” said Pastor Floyd Fuller, CEO of the Flint Courier News.

“His responsibility was to act as a liaison for the staff who worked in the layout room and communicate their concerns to the board,” Fuller added. “He was initially responsible for the Courier being able to digitally deliver the layouts of the paper to the printer by computer. Originally, the Courier had to use paste-up boards to transport all 12 typeset pages for the population to the printing company by car. Paste-up was the method we used on layout boards.”

Paste up is a method of creating or laying out publication pages that predates the use of the now-standard computerized page design desktop publishing.

Wilbert Campbell was born and raised in Blytheville, Arkansas. His claim to fame was athletics, and, specifically, he was an above-average baseball player.

“He came to Flint after high school, and moved in with his brother Lewis Campbell, and began working at General Motors, and continued to play baseball. He did get scouted for a major league team. As he was preparing to make that transition, he hurt himself at General Motors and ended up on total, permanent disability. He was always, always in church and in the Word. He moved up from ushering, to the deacon board, to Sunday school teacher, to the ministry.”

Wilbert Campbell did carpentry work on the side to make ends meet.

“He was married to my mother. Her name is Gertrude. Tucker was her maiden name. She passed on May 25, 2019. They were married December 1964…I was born a year after they got married. Mom was the apple of his eye. When she passed away it’s more or less been a grieving period.”

Gertrude and Wilbert Campbell

Wilbert Campbell has a dog named Bob Barker. Jeffrey Campbell lives in Texas, and his brother Stephan lives in Ohio. According to Jeffrey Campbell, Bob Barker has been his dad’s companion.

Jeffrey Campbell has a God sister named Angela Beck, who is Wilbert Campbell’s caretaker. Beck checks on Wilbert Campbell daily, making sure his business affairs are taken care of and that he makes his doctor’s appointments.

Still, Wilbert Campbell continues to be active in Ministers’ Alliance.

Since several ministers are being invited to the celebration, Jeffrey Campbell said it is very likely one of them will be invited to say a few words. However, he added this will be informal. The color will be blue.

Jeffrey Campbell believes since there are vocalists in their family, his father may request for them to sing some specific songs he enjoys.

Jeffrey Campbell feels his father is “fired up” about the upcoming birthday celebration…so much so that he was thinking it was being held the previous week!




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