Bennie Campo

Staff reports

Born in Luton, England just as the Great Depression grabbed the world by the throat, Bennie was part of an already failing and poverty-stricken family. With the family divided by alcoholism and divorce, the children spent much of their time in-group foster care. Bennie was known then as "Peg" to her friends and family and, unlike many, developed a cheerful and never-give-up attitude in those difficult times. When her mother re-married and reclaimed her children, Bennie was an independent ten year old. Then along came World War II, the Battle of Britain, and the endless bombing of England by Hitler's air force. The children of London and surrounding towns, including Luton, were evacuated to the North of England and Bennie was more or less permanently broken from her siblings, most of who never returned to the South. After the War, she somehow was conveyed back to Luton and rejoined her Mother, two brothers and her three half-sisters when she was 17. Her family was in shambles, as was England.

Bennie responded to this adversity by joining the British Army in 1945 and becoming a military telephone operator. She spent nearly five years in the Army until she married an Australian sailor and had a child in 1950. That marriage was short-lived. In 1952, single-mother Bennie took a job as a route salesperson for a beer distribution company and promptly encountered a young American serviceman who had a part-time job as a bartender. He was a Cajun named Clyde Campo from Napoleonville. It was love at first sight that lasted the rest of both their lives. They were married in 1954.

Bennie and Clyde lived all over the United States and the world. He was a career military man, she a career military wife. Both thrived on that nomadic life and the friendships they formed along the way. Bennie's wit and intelligence and capacity for work made her a popular member of military family neighborhoods from Montana to Pakistan, Germany to Texas, and finally to Donaldsonville. Bennie organized several British Wives Clubs on U.S. Air Bases and was much sought out as a planner and hostess for social events by the international military community around those bases. Clyde was deeply in love with and immensely proud of his English spark plug of a wife. During the course of her Alzheimer's, he took wonderful care of her almost up to the day of his own death in 2007.

Bennie was a product of her country and her era. She loved hot tea, cucumber sandwiches, warm beer, Elvis Presley, buttered toast, black and white movies, and sitting around the kitchen table for hours of talk and laughter. She took a number of troubled teenagers into her home over the years, sometimes for many months, providing shelter and acceptance and affirmation. She was salty in her speech, entirely brazen in the things she would sometimes choose to discuss in public, quick with spontaneous jokes, and completely accepting of all people. To know her was to be charmed, frequently scandalized, and teased for your pretenses, and- of course- loved. All will miss her.

Bennie Campo is survived by daughters Faydria Campo Stephenson of Donaldsonville and Kerry Campo Leblanc of Prairieville and by sons Allan Campo of Destin, Fl. and Craig Campo of Thibodaux and grandson Dayne Campo of Donaldsonville. She is also survived by grandsons David, Lance, and Colin Campo, granddaughters Allison Campo Hargrave, April Campo, and Summer Campo, and Britton Leblanc, and by three great grandchildren. She is also survived by three half-sisters in England; Pat, Wendy, Jackie Griffiths and a half brother Bill.

Funeral arrangements were held at Ourso's Funeral Home in Donaldsonville, on Friday, Jan. 9 with visitation began at 8 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. with a religious service at the Funeral Home and burial to follow at Ascension Catholic Mausoleum.