Abdella Campbell, 92, teacher, principal in city schools

November 28, 1999|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

Abdella J. Campbell, a 34-year teacher and principal in Baltimore public schools who served as president of a retired teachers' organization, died of heart failure Thursday at Bon Secours Hospital in Baltimore. He was 92.

Mr. Campbell started as a gym teacher in the city school system in 1938, rising to become an assistant principal of Western High School, assistant principal of Pimlico Junior High School and principal of Garrison Junior High School. He retired from the Garrison post in 1972.

Maxine Wood, a lifelong friend of Campbell's family, said both he and his wife, Edna Over Campbell, a former principal at Frederick Douglass High School until 1973, were role models for generations of students.

"He maintained a teaching mode all the way up until the end," said Ms. Wood, assistant superintendent for educational programs in the Alexandria, Va., public school system.

Born in the 500 block of Presstman St. in Baltimore in 1907, Mr. Campbell delivered 400 newspapers each morning before going to class at Douglass High School. He graduated in 1928.

He earned a bachelor's degree in physical education and science in 1933 from Hampton Institute in Hampton, Va.

Mr. Campbell's first job after college was as principal of a four-room schoolhouse in Louisa County, Va., when classes were segregated.

He worked as an assistant field secretary of a civil rights organization, the Negro Organization Society of Virginia Inc., before moving back to Baltimore in the late 1930s. In addition to working as a teacher, Mr. Campbell also volunteered to raise money for the YMCA.

After retiring from city schools, he joined the Retired Teachers Association of Baltimore City, becoming president in 1979. The organization named Mr. Campbell to its Senior Citizens Hall of Fame in 1992.

"He really worked to help the older teachers as part of the teachers' association, fighting hard to make sure they got what they deserved," said Leona Carpenter, a friend who worked as a counselor in the city schools.

His wife died in 1994.

Services will be held at 10: 30 a.m. Wednesday at Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenspring Avenue and Bannister Road.

Mr. Campbell is survived by his sister, Hilda Campbell of Neptune, N. J., and a cousin, Judith Martin of Baltimore.


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