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Laid-back centenarian celebrates life

J.C. Campbell turns 100

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POSTED: January 29, 2010 1:59 p.m.
Photo by Jen Alexander McCall/

Junior Campbell celebrates his 100th birthday with granddaughter Sonia Gaskins, left, and his daughter, Thelma Lane.

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Many centenarians attribute their longevity to a zest for life and constant activity, but friends and family of 100-year-old J.C. “Junior” Campbell say it is his easy-going, laid-back approach to life that has kept him going for so long.
“He was always quiet but jolly, and he got along with everybody. He was very easy-going,” said Thelma Lane, Campbell’s daughter, with whom he lives in Hinesville.
Campbell and his family and friends celebrated his birthday Wednesday at the activity center in James Brown Park with cake, ice cream and gifts.
Campbell was born in Mendes, outside Glennville, the oldest of 12 children and the only one still living. He worked as a chef for the Bradley family in Glennville before being called to the U.S. Army in 1941. Service life took him to North Carolina and then Florida, where in 1946 he was discharged and began working for the Boca Raton Resort and Club.
While at the resort, Campbell said he helped invent their sprinkler and irrigation systems. He also worked as a limo driver, chauffeuring celebrity guests to and from the airport. Lane said her father has a few mementos from his time in Boca Raton, including a gift watch and several service pins.
Campbell moved back to Georgia to stay with Lane around 2002. Even then, Lane said, he was still driving and living rather independently. These days Campbell enjoys taking rides with Lane and her daughter, Sonia Gaskins. They take shopping trips and spend time at the mall, Lane said.
A few years ago, Lane and Gaskins indulged their patriarch’s love of travel by taking him on a cruise. While he didn’t care for being on the boat, they said he enjoyed getting off at each port and touring the stops. Preparing for the cruise also led Lane to discover why the man they’d always called “J.C.” became “Junior” while living in Florida.
“When he went into the Army, he signed up as J.C.,” Lane said. “But they changed it to Junior.” As a result, Campbell’s drivers license and other identification list him as Junior. Campbell’s given name is actually John, but because he had no official birth record when it came time to get a passport for the cruise, officials used his IDs to issue his passport and birth record.
Campbell may be laid-back, but he is still has his daily routines. “He loves to watch the news and read the Bible. He also looks for the paper every morning,” Lane said. “He doesn’t worry about everything the way we worry about everything. He just takes it in stride.”
 

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