Lake Naconiche standard bearer, well-respected civic leader dies

(Source: Laird Funeral Home)
(Source: Laird Funeral Home)

NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Services for George Perry Campbell, the former Nacogdoches land acquisition who was instrumental in the construction of Lake Naconiche, are scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday at the Laird Funeral Home.

Campbell died at his home Sunday after a long, hard-fought battle against brain cancer. He was 72.

The Revs Rex Humphreys and Bobby King will officiate at the service.

Friends recalled the life of Nacogdoches native George Perry Campbell at his Visitation on Wednesday.

The retired land acquisition worked for decades to establish Lake Naconiche in Nacogdoches County.

"You're born to die, no one can get past that," said David Campbell, George's brother.

He will miss his brother a lot, but receives comfort in knowing the man linked with Lake Naconiche didn't linger in pain or misery.

"I think anybody would say if you know you're going to die that's the way to go. Without pain and suffering, at your home, not having to be in the hospital." David said of his brothers passing.

No brain cancer would get in the way of George Perry working the seventh-generation family farm.

"Just last week, two different times, we went out and moved some hay and worked cattle," David said. "A lot of people don't know it. He loved to go to the farm and work cows."

The satisfying labor was followed Saturday night with friends watching the Dallas Cowboys on television.

"He was feeling well, and he had a great appetite, doing really good, and he was very talkative and when we go out with the friends and stuff, he laughed and joked and had a good time, David said.

On Sunday George Perry collapsed and died at age 72.

"His main thing always goes back, as far as word goes, I think, was to complete Lake Naconiche. That was his life dream to get that done."David expressed.

One month ago this week George Perry was recognized for his service with the dedication of the George Perry Campbell Parkway.

David Campbell, who resembles and sounds like George Perry, is thanking a community for remembering the brother he'll deeply miss.

George Perry Campbell's visitation continues until 8 p.m. at Laird Funeral Home in Nacogdoches.

The funeral is tomorrow at 2 p.m. at Laird's.

The burial will be in Oak Grove Cemetery.

According to the obituary in the Laird Funeral Home Website, Campbell, who was born on Jan. 7, 1941, was a lifelong resident of Nacogdoches. A seventh generation Nacogdoches resident, Campbell's family roots date back to the mid-1800s.

In late July, Campbell was honored for his efforts in making sure the Lake Naconiche project was completed. Dignitaries and friends gathered at the entrance to Lake Naconiche to say thank you to the retired former land agent and project manager for working over two decades to bring the reservoir to fruition.

"This is a great day, and I'm honored and privileged that the county and others are recognizing my efforts on this reservoir," Campbell said at the event.

"I think it took somebody like George who would step on a toe every once in a while or would make a hard decision to get the lake done," said Jimmy Mize, the chairman of the Naconiche Parks Board.

"Without George this lake wouldn't be here today," said Jerry Don Williamson, a Nacogdoches County commissioner. "And I want to thank you from the county."

The genesis for the project that eventually became Lake Naconiche dates back to the 1950s, according to a previous East Texas News story. During the 1980s, Campbell made numerous trips to and from Austin to meet with various state agencies. Environmental lawsuits, permitting, title, and funding issues occurred at every step along the way.

"It got done. It took a long time," Campbell said at the event. "We fought a lot of battles."

Just about everything about Lake Naconiche takes time.

The lake's entrance was named in Campbell's honor five years ago, but the sign wasn't erected until just before the event in Campbell's honor last July. A previous story said that Campbell looked forward to the day he could fish and enjoy the recreational watershed he helped accomplish.

Campbell's great-great grandfather, William R. Campbell, came to Nacogdoches County in 1847 and purchased land in Douglass, Texas, the obituary stated. At the turn of the century, his great-grandfather served as the Nacogdoches County Sheriff.

"His grandfather, Dr. George Perry Campbell, moved his family from Douglass to Nacogdoches to be closer to Memorial Hospital," the obituary stated.

In addition to serving as a consignee for Mobile Oil Co. in Nacogdoches for more than 30 years, Campbell's late father, William Perry Campbell, also served in multiple city and county government roles. Campbell's late father served as a Nacogdoches city commissioner and as the county clerk.

Campbell served in the Vietnam War with the U.S. Army. He achieved the rank captain and earned the National Defense Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Medal, the Combat Medic Badge, and the Bronze Star.

"He loved being a rancher and spending all his free time on the family ranch in Douglass, Texas," Campbell's obituary stated. "He was also an avid hunter and fisherman."

Campbell is survived by his mother, Francis Jones Campbell, and a host of family members, friends, and acquaintances.

In lieu of flowers, Campbell's family has requested that people make donations to the charities of their choice.

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