Remembering Heath Stokes Campbell ’63

This spring, the Class of 1963 celebrated their 55th reunion. They write:

Our reunion was one of joy and sadness. We celebrated our many years of connection and grieved together the sudden and unexpected death of our wonderful Heath Stokes Campbell during the morning convocation on Saturday, April 28. “Heathie,” as she was known to those closest to her, was born on Valentine’s Day and was blessed with a naturally sweet disposition that she carried through life. She was an ideal Scrippsie, a true Renaissance woman with a love of learning, music, arts, history, gardening, cooking, and travel. Heath was a natural leader. Many of us looked up to her right away and soon depended on her warm heart and level head. She was accepting, caring, and thoughtful. She was elected to student council office during each of our four years. Her presence and intelligence attracted loyal, lifelong friends and many enduring relationships. She delighted us by becoming president of the Alumnae Association in 1998, our 35th reunion year.

Her classmates loved her. Since her death, they have written beautifully about her, recognizing how fortunate we were to have had her honor, her intellect, her friendship, and her love for so many years. The following “group remembrance” is a compilation of thoughts they have shared:

Heath was strong, kind, whimsical, and earnest. The system of values and principles she developed for herself was stringent, and she demonstrated her adherence to it in every aspect of her life. By the time we met her at Scripps, she knew how to do what was right, and helpful, and generous, and she did it. She set an example early in life, and her capacity to influence grew as she matured. She and her younger brothers, David and Thomas, grew up with parents who encouraged a commitment to excellence, a curiosity about anything and everything, a habit of service, and a special appreciation of food, wine, and theater. To that, each of them added a unique wit and sense of humor that gave levity and spice to the days. At Scripps, we soon knew that Heath’s ready and abundant laughter was as contagious as her smile. We learned, too, that she was quick to find good will and good cause, and quick to summon fortitude and courage in hard times. Her election of history and social sciences as areas of concentration was a natural one. She wanted to understand how people and events shape the world. She shared the joy of her discoveries in the profession that was her calling: teaching.

Her pursuit of her secondary education credential led her to San Francisco State University. She set up housekeeping with fellow Scrippsies in a tiny apartment on Nob Hill, getting up early and staying up late, riding the Muni to school, and student-teaching every day. Her budget was tight, so she made delicious meals from cheap ingredients and spent the money she saved to go to the Bolshoi Ballet. Heath was intrepid. She entered a job market in which history, science, and math teachers were more readily hired if they coached a sport; there being few funded sports for women, the new hires were usually men. Despite that, she got the position she wanted and began teaching and building the foundations of her adulthood. She wasted no time; as she entered her 30s, she had taught for seven years, purchased a car, purchased her home in Irvine, California, subscribed to the opera, joined a bridge group, and traveled to Africa.

She was creative. She was awarded a grant for developing and teaching a class that was qualitatively and quantitatively different from the normal curriculum. She established an archeology site called Stokes Field, and her classes created and developed original cultures. They made artifacts to give clues about family structure, government, culture, religion, and social attitudes, and they buried them in Stokes Field. The “digs” were always a big event, and Heath was proud of the many matriarchal societies her students developed over the years. She took leadership positions. She served as chair of the Social Sciences Department and led, sponsored, and participated in the development of curricula, policy, and procedures, but the development of her students remained her primary focus. Students stayed in touch with her, and she attended many college graduations and weddings; then she welcomed the children of her students and later congratulated them on high school and college graduations. Heath served as president of the Anaheim Secondary Teachers Association (ASTA), one of only seven women to hold that office. Her term included a particularly contentious crisis in the association, leading to the recall of two board members. A remembrance of her in the recent ASTA newsletter spoke of her determination and firm leadership at that critical time, noting that she was “a role model and inspiration to others.” Heath had an active life with family and friends and pursued her varied interests with high energy.

She seemed not to lack anything in her life. So it was with surprised delight and tremendous pleasure that her family and friends welcomed Gordon Campbell into Heath’s extended social circle, celebrating their marriage on December 30, 1986. Though Heath and Gordon had taught at the same school for six years, and had worked and socialized together, they saw each other in a brand new way when they both entered an evening MA program. Their profound recognition of each other in their shared values, morals, habits, interests, and the active participation of each of them in caring for family, friends, and society was swift and certain. Their engagement was happy and short; their marriage was happy, steadfast, and long. They enjoyed and supported one another. They developed a remarkable and lively relationship in which education, arts, sciences, nature, and humanitarian causes were supported with their time, their effort, their money, and their compassion.

At home, they built their daily lives with imagination and dedication. Gardening, shopping, cooking, eating, caring for family and friends, finding a new awareness or interest, and serious thinking about ideas big and small were all important, and all done with intention and enjoyment. The joy they found in life with one another gave light and grace to everyone around them. How fitting it seems that Heathie departed this life at her cherished Scripps enjoying her many friends and looking forward to seeing Gordon in the afternoon! Since her death, we have spoken often with one another and with Gordon, sometimes offering comfort, sometimes just sharing pain. As time passes, we have begun to realize that we will always see Heath with her lovely and generous smile and hear echoes of her good humor. As we remember her aloud, we find healing in the knowledge that she is a part of each of us, and she will be, forever.


(Image Above) Members of the Class of 1963 at Reunion Weekend 2018, from left: Bonnie Barnes Harrington, Susan Sumner Sullivan, Linda Dorrance Bennett, Helen Hartshorn, Lalla Neblett, Jan Horn Sutherlen, Heath Stokes Campbell, and Susan Conway Mathews