Friday, April 13, 2007

In memoriam Robert A. Campbell, M.D.

Reading this morning's paper, I was shocked to see an obituary notice for Dr. Robert A. Campbell, M.D., former professor of pediatrics here at OHSU. A specialist in pediatric nephrology, Dr. Campbell was also Santa to patients in Doernbecher Memorial Hospital for almost 20 years.

I had occasion to speak with Dr. Campbell just last month. One of our oral history interviewees, he had called to see whether he could get a replacement for his copy of the interview, which he had loaned to a friend who had never returned it. Of course, we happily sent him three additional copies. It was a memorable call, though: I picked up my ringing phone and was greeted with a rather loud voice declaring "This is Dr. Robert A. Campbell. Who is this?" (He had called me, but, I guess you never really know who'll pick up a phone...)

We went on to have a lovely conversation about my last name, which he correctly pegged as Polish, and about his Czech wife, whose maiden name was Muchka. (Mucha in Polish means 'fly.') After he finally got down to business and we discussed the replacement copies of the interview, he suddenly asked me: "How old are you?" When I told him, he said, "I thought so. You're very flirtatious. Goodbye!" and promptly hung up.

I'm pretty sure no one has ever called me flirtatious (I'm a librarian.) But it was one of the more entertaining calls I've gotten recently, and it certainly endeared Dr. Campbell to me. I am saddened to hear of his death.


Anonymous said...

Dr. Robert A. Campbell saved my life in 1987. he had a truly astounding lack of bedside manner. he even bordered on rude at times. but not even for one second did i ever feel anything less than one hundred percent warmth and compassion from him - and he always always always made me smile. he and his wife hold a very special place in my heart. i remember him kicking the hospital bed to wake me up after surgery with a, yes, very gruff: "are you awake yet?" i remember him coming to our house to take out the staples in my belly. i remember him fondly.

Sara Piasecki said...

What a wonderful story! He certainly was a character who will be remembered and missed by many. For those of you who don't read the Oregonian, a longer obituary was published in this morning's (5/4/07) edition. This link should take you to the online version, which should remain freely accessible for two weeks:

Sara Piasecki said...

It has come to our attention that the anonymous comment on Robert Campbell's participation in a 1987 surgery may be a case of mistaken identity, since the Dr. Robert A. Campbell under discussion in the original post was, according to his family, primarily involved in research, not patient care, in 1987. We can neither verify nor deny the accuracy of the commenter's statements.