Ralph Campbell Jr. dies at age 64

FROM STAFF REPORTSDecember 30, 2010 

— Ralph Campbell Jr., a former state auditor and Raleigh city councilman, died Tuesday evening, according to Lightner Funeral Home. He was 64.

Lightner Funeral Home president Bruce Lightner said today that Campbell died of lung cancer.

Campbell, the son of prominent civil rights leaders June and Ralph Campbell Sr., was elected to city council in 1985 and served until 1991. He was elected state auditor in 1992, becoming the first black politician to hold statewide executive office. He served three terms.

Campbell was an "energetic, highly focused, relentless advocate for this community," said State Sen. Dan Blue, who knew Campbell for close to 40 years. Campbell capitalized on his background in business and accounting and "used it for the public good."

Campbell, who spent nearly his entire life in Raleigh, was born at St. Agnes Hospital on the campus of St. Augustine's College. He graduated from the school in 1968 with a bachelor's degree in business administration. He worked for more than a decade as an auditor in state government, including posts with the N.C. State Health Benefits Office and the N.C. Department of Revenue.

Campbell grew up with a strong sense of social justice. His mother and father helped plan the Raleigh civil rights movement around their kitchen table.

"He embodied the values of his parents," Blue said.

Campbell's younger brother, Bill, was the first black student to attend an all-white Raleigh school. Bill Campbell later served two terms as mayor of Atlanta.

As a councilman representing Southeast Raleigh, Campbell pushed to revitalize downtown, backing a proposal in the late 80s to build a downtown sports arena. He advocated changing the name of Eastern Boulevard to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and championed the redevelopment of City Market into a destination for diners and shoppers.

His body will lie in state at the Capitol rotunda from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday.

A memorial service will be held Friday in the Fletcher Opera Theater of the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. (It had been announced previously the service would start one hour earlier.)

A funeral service will be held at noon Saturday at St. Ambrose Episcopal Church, 813 Darby St. in Raleigh. Burial will be at Carolina Biblical Gardens, 1530 Creech Road, Garner. (A different location had been given previously.)

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