James Ivor Campbell, 46, Idyllwild recreation director, died Thursday, March 19, at his home in Idyllwild reportedly of complications from a blood clot in his lungs associated with a hereditary blood disease called Factor V Leiden.
Discovered by a friend shortly after 1 p.m., Campbell had apparently been dead for several hours by the time Idyllwild Fire paramedics reached him. He had been home sick with bronchitis and the beginnings of pneumonia, according to former father-in-law and retired U.S. Forest Service Public Information Officer Pat Boss.
Boss said Campbell had been diagnosed in 1998 with Factor V, a hereditary condition characterized by excessive clotting commonly treated with blood thinners. Boss said Campbell had been “real dizzy” several days before his death and had passed out the day before.
“I was in the house that morning [March 19], at 9 a.m,” said Boss. “Jimmy said he was feeling better.” Boss said that, according to the Riverside County Coroner’s office, a clot broke loose and went to his lungs. When a clot reaches the lungs, it can block a pulmonary blood vessel and cause a pulmonary embolism. With Factor V Leiden, doctors recommend regular blood panels and regular use of blood thinning medication. At the time of his death, Campbell had no personal health insurance. Boss said Campbell also suffered from emphysema.
A western Pennsylvania native and an ardent Pittsburgh Steelers fan, Jimmy, as everyone called him, was larger than life — never without a smile or his trademark, good guy enthusiasm. Prior to becoming recreation director on Nov. 20, 2006, Campbell served as acting public information officer with the U.S. Forest Service. “When Jimmy and I ran the front office there was never a bad day,” Boss remembered. “When people came in [to the front office] you could hear the laughter. People would say, ‘Oh Jimmy, I’m so glad you’re here. He was so brilliant in how he treated people. No question was dumb. He would answer all questions with truthfulness and respect. He hiked the trails with his kids so that he could give proper directions to tourists.”
Campbell graduated in business management from Slippery Rock University (The Rock) near Pittsburgh. He moved to Idyllwild in 2001.
He leaves behind four young children, all of elementary school age. Campbell had been raising them as a single parent.
Campbell left no will, and had no life insurance. “We’re not sure what will happen with the house,” said Boss. “He owes about $155,000 on it. We’re just now going through his bills. The kids have [medical] insurance. Gracie’s [Campbell’s oldest daughter] insurance is very expensive. It could be an issue [in the future].” Pat and Jan Boss have established a fund to support the Campbell children, “The Campbell Kids Fund.” Donations may be sent to The Campbell Kids Fund/Jan Boss, P.O. Box 3410, Idyllwild, CA 92549, or deposited into an account set up for the children at Guaranty Bank.
The community is still numb from the shock of Campbell’s untimely passing. Tributes to Campbell are being posted on FaceBook. San Jacinto District Ranger Laurie Rosenthal, with whom Campbell worked, said, “He brought out the best in people. He certainly brought out the best in me.” Chris Singer, head of the Idyllwild Community Recreation Council, for whom Campbell ran Town Hall Recreation said, “Jim Campbell was one of the happiest, most up-beat people I’ve ever known. Nothing could really get him down. And most of all he was a great dad. He absolutely adored his children and his job as a dad. I’m proud to have been his friend.”
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday, March 29, at Town Hall followed by a luncheon. “It will have some of the tradition of a wake, with food, music, maybe some Irish dancing, and Rolling Rock beer [served outside because of Town Hall restrictions],” said Boss.
Perhaps the most fitting quote about Jimmy was one of his own, remembered by Boss. “Always love and pay attention to your kids. They are the foundation of your being.”