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.
His flagship company, John M. Campbell and Company, is still the worldwide leader in training for natural gas conditioning and processing. This legacy company lives on, employing 50 professionals in Norman with offices in Tulsa, Katy, Texas, and Edmonton, Canada.
His influence and guidance to hundreds of young men and women who had the privilege of his mentorship is greatly understated by his modest words. To this day, many of these ex-students and colleagues still consider him as not only their father figure, but the person who most influenced their lives. His wisdom, guidance, sense of humor, fairness, generosity, integrity and compassion will be missed by all who knew him, especially his family.
We wish to thank Dr. Tom Merrill for the caring and compassionate services he provided our father over the years. We also wish to thank Cheri Hardesty for the trusting companionship, care and love she provided for our father that allowed him to live comfortably in his home since the passing of our beloved mother.
Donations should be made to the Mary Gwendolyn Campbell reception area at CCFI.
Arrangements for John and his family were placed in the care of the Vice family at Havenbrook Funeral Home in Norman.
Online condolences may be shared at HavenbrookFuneralHome.com.
Norman Transcript, Friday, Aug. 30, 2013