Richard Ayers “Dick” Campbell died peacefully on April 6, 2016, marking the end of a full life for a wonderful man.
The fourth of five children, Dick was born in Midwest, Wyo., on Jan. 16, 1927, to Malcolm and Reta Campbell. The family moved to Story, Wyo., and Dick graduated from Sheridan County High School, where he excelled on the football field. As a soldier in the U.S. Army of Occupation, Dick served in Japan from 1945 to 1947. After being honorably discharged from the army, Dick accepted an athletic scholarship to play football at the University of Wyoming.
While at U of W, Dick met the love of his life, Jean Peters, and they were married in the Bighorn Mountains on Aug. 20, 1949. Jean was his biggest cheerleader as Dick captained the championship Cowboys during an undefeated season in 1950 and Gator Bowl win in 1951. The football team was inducted into the Wyoming Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994, and Dick was personally honored as an inductee in 2012.
Following a professional football stint with the Washington Redskins, Dick and Jean moved to Billings, where he was employed as a Petroleum Landman for Clark Drilling Co. and later Ajax Oil Co. In 1964, Dick and C.A. “Tib” Biggs entered a partnership and formed Sawtooth Oil Co. After Tib passed, Jack Starkweather became Dick’s partner in Sawtooth Oil.
Dick and Jean were joined by sons Dennis and Tyler and daughter Kim. There was always a dog (usually a beloved black lab) to complete the family.
After being stricken with polio in 1954, Dick was left with paralysis of his right leg. Although no longer able to run or ski, Dick continued to enjoy the outdoors with a passion for camping, hunting and fishing. He looked forward to going to “hunting camp” every year with dear friends. Dick also enjoyed fishing trips to Panama, Colombia, the Virgin Islands, Canada and Mexico, as well as in Wyoming and Montana.
Dick and Jean enjoyed great times with many friends on the golf course, at high school sporting events, U of W football games, travels to warm places, camping and at the cabin in Story. The kids and grandchildren were always excited to be included in an outing or vacation. Dick and Jean built a new home on their beloved Piney Creek and retired to Story in 1990.
Dick was a member of the Montana Association of Petroleum Landmen, American Association of Petroleum Landmen, Independent Petroleum Association of America, Rocky Mountain Oil and Gas Association, and was the governor’s appointee to the Interstate Oil Compact Commission. He was appointed chairman of the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, on which he served for 15 years. He was a director of First Interstate Bank, director and chairman of Sawtooth Biotech, Inc., and director of Roundup Resources, Inc., and also served on the Foundation Board of the University of Wyoming.
Being a social man, Dick enjoyed his memberships at the Yellowstone Country Club and Billings Petroleum Club. He was a great host and loved sharing Jean’s legendary meals. Dick’s generosity to friends and strangers helped many through difficult times, as he was quick to give from his pantry, his garage and his wallet.
Dick was preceded in death by his daughter Kim and son-in-law Kelly Christianson; his parents, Malcolm and Reta Campbell; brother Bud Campbell; and sisters Edna Wilcox, Dorothy Wing and Carol Hayter.
Dick is survived by his beloved wife of 66 years, Jean; sons Dennis (Sue) and Tyler (Carolyn); and grandchildren Dr. Caitlin Campbell (Dr. Matt Burgess) and Cody Campbell.
Unfortunately, Dick suffered a debilitating stroke in 2012. The Campbell family is very appreciative of the wonderful care and love provided to Dick by the staff at Fischer Cottage on St. John’s campus in Billings.
A celebration of Dick’s life will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, April 16, at Shiloh United Methodist Church, 1810 Shiloh Road, with a reception to follow at the Yellowstone Country Club.
Contributions may be made to the University of Wyoming Athletic Scholarship Fund or a charity of your choice.