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After 65 years, Bill Campbell retires

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- After 65 years, Bill Campbell is finally retiring. That's not 65 years of age, it's 65 years of work.

Campbell, the 90-year-old state golf icon and World Golf Hall of Fame member, reluctantly retired earlier this week from his job selling insurance with John Hancock Life in Huntington, a position he's held since the late 1940s.

"I've been at it 65 years,'' Campbell said Friday in a telephone interview from his country home in Lewisburg.

"I've decided it was too much to ask my friends and family, let alone this old body itself. I've retired. Monday this week I was able to close the office in Huntington. I hated to do it, but I really had no choice.''

Campbell, who competed in 37 U.S. Amateurs (winning in 1964) and won 15 West Virginia Amateur titles, pointed out that he's been battling a condition called neuropathy in his legs in recent years.

"It's a nerve disease,'' Campbell said. "The symptom is having bad balance, and I do. It manifests itself in frequent falls. I've had a number of them, but luckily I'm hard-headed, too, so I haven't broken something.

"As we speak, it's new territory. I emphasize that it affects everything I do or don't do. The combination of age and illness has taken me out of everything I'm doing. I haven't played golf in several years. I'm not bragging about it. It's sad. I hate to miss golf and not be able to walk and see it, but under the circumstances, I'm lucky to be able to see things from the topside instead of being long gone.''

Campbell, who has become the state's ambassador of golf in recent years, still plans to be on hand for the PGA Greenbrier Classic in White Sulphur Springs July 4-7 and the West Virginia Amateur at The Greenbrier Aug. 5-8.

"I'm presentable,'' Campbell said. "I'll attend parts of the State Amateur as I always do in the [golf] cart. At the Greenbrier Classic, I'll do certain things. I bought a ticket, and I'll be there part-time. I'm not taking any chances.

"I've sat by the first tee [on The Greenbrier's Old White course] and met the guys as they go out and play [in the PGA event]. It's nice to do. I hope to continue to do that, [since] I've done it in the past.''

Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickryan@wvgazette.com.

 


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