The Norman Transcript


August 30, 2013

Dr. John M. Campbell Sr.

NORMAN — Dr. John M. Campbell Sr. died in his sleep Saturday morning, Aug. 24, 2013, in his home after a brief illness. He was born in Virden, Ill., to John M. Campbell and Ione Marie (Whittler) Campbell on the Whittler kitchen table on March 24, 1922.

He graduated from Burlington High School in Iowa in 1940 and received a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering at Iowa State University in 1943. Shortly after graduation, he was assigned to the Manhattan Project by his employer DuPont and was part of a group that developed the atomic bombs that were dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima that ended the war with Japan. While on the project, he met and married Gwen Thompson. That began a wonderful 61-year marriage that ended with her death in 2006.

In 1946, he came to the University of Oklahoma as a graduate student and instructor in chemical engineering. In 1951, he received a Ph.D. in chemical engineering, the first offered in the College of Engineering. After three years in industry, he was rehired by OU in petroleum engineering and served as the chair of the department for 12 years. He also served as the director of the Petroleum Research Center and was the Halliburton professor before resigning in 1968 to found the first of several companies to serve the international petroleum industry.

By virtue of his high-profile international energy consultancy and his successful books and technical papers, he received many national and international honors, culminating in his election to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering.

His is survived by his three sons, John Jr. and wife Linda, Bob and wife Leslie and Chuck; 10 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

His celebration of life will be 1 p.m. Wednesday at the First Presbyterian Church.

Postscript from his sons: The above obit was written by our father prior to his death. Being respectful of his wish, we have published it as he wrote it. Dad’s modestly written announcement grossly understates his personal and professional achievements and his contributions to the Norman community and the University of Oklahoma.

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