NOVEMBER 8, 2014 08:40 AM
A former Victoria news broadcaster who off camera was an avid surfer and family man has died.
Former CHEK reporter-anchor Philip Campbell, 65, died of cancer.
He and wife Rhonda have two grown children and lived in a house on an acreage in Central Saanich.
Campbell worked at the station for 22 years until 2009, when the station became independent and he took a buyout.
Born in Catalina, California, Campbell attended Trinity Western University, a private Christian liberal arts university in Langley, and graduated from Western Washington University in Bellingham.
He began his broadcast career in the U.S. before taking a job at CHEK in 1987. He won four Associated Press Broadcaster Awards for his work in television.
CHEK news director Rob Germain, who first worked with Campbell in 1995, remembers him as a dedicated journalist and creative story teller who loved hunting down a good tale as much as he loved telling it. “He loved the chase,” Germain said.
Carrying his microphone, Campbell once literally chased a controversial Capital Regional District director, on camera, into the man’s van and then down the street.
Germain described Campbell, as many former colleagues did on Facebook this week, as almost boyish in his attitude, enthusiastic, polite and happy-go-lucky.
“He had a very positive attitude and he was a religious man and I think that was part of it,” Germain said.
Campbell was a devout Christian, whose children were homeschooled and whose family very much kept to themselves.
“He was unwavering in his faith in God — a Jesus follower,” said CHEK reporter Kendall Hanson in Nanaimo, who regarded Campbell as a mentor and praised his humour. “He would make hum-drum stories entertaining.”
Due to a family tragedy, Campbell promised his wife he would not fly on the job, Hanson said, so he refused any assignment involving a helicopter ride or floatplane. “But viewers at home would never know that,” Hanson said.
Former colleague Harry Maunu said Campbell was thorough “sometimes to the point that he was a pain in the butt,” checking over the same facts two and three times.
Outside work, Campbell was an avid surfer as well as a windsurfer, snowboarder, sailor and tennis player, whose “labour of love” was his vintage panelled wagon, a 1951 Ford Woody Wagon.
Campbell organized a Disabled Surfing Surfari in 1993 that became national news.
A few weeks ago, Campbell stopped by Maunu’s house, unannounced. The two had been friends at work but didn’t spend time together outside the office.
“He was quite chipper,” Maunu said. Then, unsolicited, Campbell said he had Stage 4 cancer. Maunu was shocked.
“Why he picked me, I’m not quite sure,” Maunu said. “He asked me not to tell anybody.”
As the two hugged goodbye and were backing away, Campbell “turned and said, ‘Harry, I love you,’ ” Maunu said.
Other former colleagues were equally surprised to hear Campbell had been gravely ill and had died.
His family could not be reached for comment.
“We were all shocked and saddened to hear of his departure,” Germain said.
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