Cover photo for Gary Lee Campbell's Obituary
Gary Lee Campbell Profile Photo
1936 Gary 2024

Gary Lee Campbell

December 12, 1936 — June 6, 2024

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Gary Lee Campbell, born December 12, 1936, to Otto Merle and Alice Althea (Johnson) Campbell, passed peacefully on June 6, 2024, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Gary's early years were filled with a passion for building model airplanes. He fondly recalled his first successful flight-a rocket-powered model that soared out of sight at the neighborhood park. Gary spent many summers on his aunt's farm, his childhood mischief, and the close bond with his grandmother were fond memories he cherished.

His interest in the military was evident from a young age, participating in ROTC and the drill team at Central High School in Omaha, Nebraska. He performed notably at the Aksarben coronation.

In September 1954, Gary began his studies at Omaha University, now the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where he majored in Marketing. He was an active student, serving as an officer in his fraternity, a cheerleader, and the commander of the drill team, even performing at the Air Force Academy. His academic excellence earned him the distinction of being a distinguished military graduate, receiving a regular commission in the USAF, and achieving the highest academic average in the College of Business.

Gary married his wife of 65 years Ruth Sutton in October 1958, and they had three children and five grandchildren: Cindy Thompsen and her husband John of Perkins, Oklahoma, Jeff Campbell and his wife Barbara of Lakewood Ranch, Florida, and Kristin Low and her husband Chuck of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.

After college, Gary dedicated 21 years to the Air Force as a Navigator and Evaluator on tanker aircraft and C-130 cargo aircraft. He endured harsh conditions, like the week spent on alert in Canada at -40°F with 40 mph winds. He served a year in Vietnam, where his radar analysis skills ensured safe landings under siege conditions. Gary also logged over 500 combat missions while in Vietnam, earning a distinguished reputation as a navigator, flight instructor, and evaluator. His commendable service earned him numerous awards, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal, several Bronze Stars, and several Air Medals.

Gary furthered his education with a Master's degree in Business with a major in Accounting from Michigan State University. The latter part of his career focused on management and budget analysis, culminating in his role as Director of Management Analysis for Headquarters Air University. His division in England was recognized as the Outstanding Comptroller Division in USAFE, USAF - Europe. Gary cherished his time as a guest lecturer at the Royal Air Force Staff College near London.

Upon retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel, Gary and his family settled in Tulsa, Oklahoma where Gary passed his CPA exam. He held various financial positions in corporate accounting at five different companies before retiring in December 2003. Yet, his desire to stay active led him to part-time accounting work for a local church.

A devoted member of Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church, Gary served as an elder and Sunday school teacher, he was in the choir and was involved in numerous activities, including ringing the church bells and building wheelchair ramps with the Kirk Karpenters. He and Ruth, his loving wife, were also Skippers of Mariners.

Gary is survived by his beloved wife, Ruth Sutton Campbell; his children Cindy Thompsen (John), Jeff Campbell (Barbara), and Kristin Low (Chuck); his grandchildren Dana O'Rourke, Andrew Thompsen, Matthew Thompsen, Ashten Low, Liam Low and his four granddogs; as well as his great-grandchild Katie O'Rourke. His sense of humor and love for a good laugh will be dearly missed by all who knew him.

His legacy of dedication, service, and love for family endures in the hearts of those he leaves behind. Gary's life was a testament to the power of dedication and the joy found in simple moments—whether it was the pride of a perfectly navigated flight, the satisfaction of a well-balanced ledger, or the harmony of voices raised in song at his beloved church. His contributions to his community, his church, and his country have left an indelible mark, and his legacy will continue to light the way for generations to come.

Gary will be laid to rest at Ft. Gibson National Cemetery, 10:00am, Friday, June 21, 2024. A celebration of Gary's life will be held 11:00am, Saturday, June 22, 2024 at Kirk of the Hill Presbyterian Church. In lieu of flowers, please consider memorial donations to the Clarehouse, https://www.clarehouse.org/ or to Kirk of the Hills, https://thekirk.com/give/ .



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Service Schedule

Upcoming Services

Graveside Service

Friday, June 21, 2024

10:00 - 10:30 am (Central time)

Ft. Gibson National Cemetery

1423 Cemetery Road, Fort Gibson, OK 74434

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Celebration of Life

Saturday, June 22, 2024

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Central time)

Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian

4102 E 61st Street, Tulsa, OK 74136

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