Back in 1971 when I arrived at Fort Riley Kansas, there was this guy named Ralph, from Bulger Pa. that was assigned to my squad room on post barracks. On top of being some where I didn’t want to be in the first place, here was this guy always, always talking about anything related to Pittsburgh sports. The Pittsburgh Pirates had a great baseball team, and of course the Pittsburgh Steelers had Terry Bradshaw and Lynn Swan and all of those guys. There were some great games those Steelers had against my Cowboys by the way.
Ralph was always, always talking up how good the Steelers were. It got old pretty quick to me. I was in a situation that made me think about other priorities at the time, including a pregnant wife back home. I endured Ralph and all of his Pittsburgh bragging.
I guess I endured it long enough, for he and I became best friends. Aside from him bragging on Pittsburgh, he was a funny guy and helped me laugh about things that were pretty much serious otherwise. We were best friends after all.
And then like so many times in the Army, our tours ended and we were going to be going home soon. Of course you always say you will write, but you never do. But Ralph and I had such a special bond and friendship, we made a pact that every year, on Super Bowl Sunday, we would call each other and catch up and hopefully, be talking either Cowboys or Steelers in the Super Bowl.
We called each other for years. We helped each other through some tough times together. His cancer, and my divorce. We were still friends after all those years. He survived and so did I.
Time has sort of gotten by me now. It’s been several years since I have heard from Ralph, so since I see Pittsburgh is going back to the Super Bowl, I thought I would call Ralph and see what his plans are. Maybe he needed a place to stay to watch his Steelers and this being the first time Dallas has hosted a Super Bowl, what a great idea if I invited him down for the game.
I didn’t have his phone number so I Googled him and found this.
Ralph E. Campbell Jr.
Millworker from Bulger
Ralph Edwin Campbell Jr., 49, of Bulger, died Friday, June 30, 2000, in his home. He was born August 19, 1950, in Midway, a son of Alverta Stewart Campbell of Clinton and the late Ralph Campbell Sr. Mr. Campbell graduated from Fort Cherry High School and was a millworker at Climax Molybdenum. On October 7, 1972, he married Sharon Holmes, who survives. Surviving, in addition to his wife and mother, are a son, Brant Edwin Campbell of Bulger; a daughter, Angela Lynn Shaffer of Bulger; two sisters, Anna Black of Midway and Alice Reese of West Palm Beach, Fla.; and two grandchildren, Matthew Paul and Brianne Nicole Shaffer.
Wow. I’m pretty stunned. I should have called sooner. I just figured he would be there.
Maybe I’ll call his wife someday, just not now. Ralph was a great guy. Hang in there Ralph, your doing ok now.