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Henrietta Hisgen Campbell, philanthropist

Published May 12, 2004

Henrietta Hisgen Campbell, widow of Courtney Campbell, former U.S. congressman and the man for whom the causeway and bridge that links Tampa and Clearwater was named in 1948, died Monday (May 10, 2004) at her home on Island Estates.

Mrs. Campbell, who was recognized as a "born organizer" and philanthropist, was active in local charities, responsible for the first Cancer Society Fashion Show and a founder of Ruth Eckerd Hall.

Born in Springfield, Mass., Mrs. Campbell first came to Tampa in the early 1920s from Massachusetts and met and married Courtney Campbell, an industrialist who also served in the U.S. House of Representatives during the Eisenhower administration.

Naming the bridge and causeway that linked Hillsborough and Pinellas after Courtney Campbell was controversial at the time it was proposed in the early 1940s. Even Mr. Campbell opposed the idea. A native of Chillicothe, Mo., who attended Westminster College and the University of Missouri before serving in the Army during World War I, Mr. Campbell came to the Tampa Bay area during Florida's land boom in the 1920s, where he met his wife.

After the boom went bust, Mr. Campbell was named vice president and Florida's general manager of Food Machinery and Chemical in 1927.

In 1942, Gov. Millard Caldwell appointed Mr. Campbell to the State Road Board. Two years later, the state and federal governments purchased the Davis Causeway for about $1.1-million. The stretch, which spanned Old Tampa Bay, had been named for its visionary developer, Ben T. Davis. The bridge was first opened as a toll road in 1934.

After the government took it over and it became toll-free, the bridge became a more popular route. Recognizing that fact, Mr. Campbell lobbied to have the causeway's base rebuilt and widened, and recreational areas and foliage added.

The first efforts to rename the causeway for Mr. Campbell were in 1947, and despite the protests of some, the name change was made official on Jan. 19, 1948.

In 1952, Mr. Campbell, a Democrat, was elected to Congress. After his 1954 re-election bid was unsuccessful, the couple returned to their Clearwater home where he became involved in numerous businesses and both were active in civic affairs. Mr. Campbell died in 1971 at the age of 76.

In March 1997, when former president Dwight Eisenhower's grandson and his wife, David and Julie Nixon Eisenhower, came to the Tampa area, Mrs. Campbell was one of those honored at a reception sponsored by the Junior League of Clearwater-Dunedin, which followed a talk by the couple at Ruth Eckerd Hall.

The young Eisenhowers made a point of visiting Mrs. Campbell, who had played a role in the Washington scene during the Eisenhower administration. Julie Eisenhower's parents, former President and First Lady Richard M. and Pat Nixon, were also in Washington at that time while Nixon served as Eisenhower's vice president.

During the two years that her husband was in Congress, Mrs. Campbell served as vice president of the 83rd Congressional Group, made up of wives of senators and representatives. In that position, she become well acquainted with first lady Mamie Eisenhower.

Mrs. Campbell was a founder of the National Society of Arts and Letters in 1965 and served as its second president from 1967-1969. She was a longtime member of the Tampa Junior League and a charter member of Leading Ladies of Ruth Eckerd Hall, where one of her favorite projects was the hall fundraiser known as the Pack Posh Sale.

An avid supporter of Morton Plant Hospital, she was a volunteer nurse during the early days when there was just one building. Known for her generosity, Mrs. Campbell often told a story about a young burn victim at the hospital. Mrs. Campbell would often be called at home by the nursing staff to come to the hospital because the little girl would take her medicine only from Mrs. Campbell.

Mrs. Campbell was a longtime member of Chapel by the Sea and a charter member of the Carlouel Yacht Club, both in Clearwater Beach. She has no survivors.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at Moss-Feaster Funeral Home, 693 South Belcher Road, Clearwater. Donations may be made to Ruth Eckerd Hall, Morton Plant Hospital, Hospice of the Florida Suncoast, or any charity.

[Last modified May 12, 2004, 01:56:30]

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