Dennis Campbell was born in Sipsey, Alabama and moved to Sumiton at the age of six, just before beginning first grade. He has been a lifelong resident of Sumiton. In January 2014, Dennis had a small mole removed from his left shoulder and it came back as melanoma. Having a medical background, he understood from that very day that he had probably a few short years to live. In February 2014 he had surgery to clear the area. Another lump appeared in December 2015, and it was surgically removed. In February 2017, a third surgery occurred to remove additional small lumps. In early May, a PET scan showed more areas, and on July 5 a more radical surgery under his left arm was performed and several lymph nodes removed. A mid-August 2017 PET scan revealed that the melanoma had metastasized to the distant locations of Dennis’s liver and lungs, with the liver involved in a greater way. All along the way, Dennis had refused radiation and chemotherapy. He had a philosophy and verbalized it as, “I want to live until I die.”
“Live until he died” was certainly a fact with Dennis. He went to South Baja, Mexico, twice in early 2017, took a safari in Cameroon, Africa, in May 2017, and another safari in South Africa in early August 2017. He even had a sheep hunting and scientific expedition to Tajikistan planned for November 2017, but talked a friend into doing it in his place. Dennis hunted every huntable continent and in his more than 50-year hunting career, took some 500 different trophy animals. He had more than 400 trophies entered in the Safari Club International record book (a few of which were entered as world records) and had earned all of SCI’s top awards, including the World Conservation and Hunting Award. He was inducted into the Pantheon of International Big Game Hunters in 2014 as one of only four people at the time. The Pantheon is the most prestigious quantifiable big game hunting award in the world.
Amazingly, Dennis considered himself more a conservationist than a hunter. He became a director for the Alabama Wildlife Federation in 1977, and began AWF’s life membership program as the first life member. He was a founding member of the Alabama Chapter of Safari Club International in the late 1970s, and developed its hunting awards program that continues to this day. He was also the editor of their newsletter for several years.
Dennis founded Alabama Whitetail Records in 1986, and published six different editions of the record book for Alabama whitetail deer. He was able to transfer that program in 2012, and it is alive and well today. In 1990, Dennis was appointed as executive director of the Grand Slam Club of North American Sheep Hunters. There were fewer than 400 members at the time, and under his leadership the organization has risen to some 4,000 members. He began a similar organization for international mountain game hunters in 1997, known as Ovis, Inc. He donated that organization, along with its life membership fund, to the Grand Slam Club in 2001, and the two merged into what is known today as the 501(c)(3) non-profit conservation organization Grand Slam Club/Ovis (GSCO). During Dennis’s 27 years as executive director, GSCO has donated directly nearly nine million dollars for big game conservation projects worldwide. GSCO has several different awards known as its “milestones,” and the board of directors has quantified that these awards generate more than $80 million annually for wildlife conservation.
Dennis became a born-again Christian on May 12, 1975. He attended the Dora Church of God and was part of the leadership there from that time until 1980. He and his wife Nancy then moved their membership back to the church most of Dennis’s family attended while he was growing up, the Sumiton Church of God. He was a long-term member of the pastor’s council there and extremely involved. In 2002, Dennis and Nancy began attending Briarwood Presbyterian Church of America. They also moved their membership from Sumiton to the Chelsea Church of God … yes, they were members of two churches. Dennis served a three-year term as a deacon at Briarwood beginning in January 2005. During all those years, Dennis was an adult Sunday School teacher for the majority of his Christian life, or at least up until around 2005. He taught continuously for more than 25 years and retained every single original lesson outline and note from those years.
In 2000, Dennis published a commentary book on Proverbs. He worked on it for some five years and the title was Someone Told Me a Secret (And Told Me to Tell You). Besides his extensive study, he read through the Bible several times in his life. Because Proverbs was his favorite book, he read through it at least once a month every month beginning in 1978. That equates to reading Proverbs approximately 500 times during his life. His life’s goal was to find the “wisdom, understanding and knowledge” within that book.
Dennis married Nancy Jo Gann in February 1968 at the tender age of 17. He and Nancy would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2018. He loved to tell people that she had been his girlfriend since age 13 (for well over 50 years) and that she was the “love of his life.”
Dennis is survived by Nancy, two sons and their wives (Micah Seth and Bessy, and John Christopher Campbell and Machelle), and one daughter and her husband (Miriam Campbell Israel and Griff). He has three grandchildren (John Christopher Campbell II, Mary Jo Campbell, and Charles Saul Israel). He was preceded in death by one son (Marcus Saul Campbell) in 2007, grandson Carl Finley Israel in 2015, father Charles David (C.D.) Campbell in 1999 and mother, Mary Barnett Campbell in 2015. Dennis has one brother and four sisters: Sarah Glover (and her late husband Sam, who recently passed away in August 2017), Becky Potts (and husband Joe), David Campbell (and wife Glenda), Eunice Russell (and husband Ken), and Leah Hulsey (and husband Buster).
The services are to be held at the Sumiton Church of God, located at 50 Hosanna Drive, Sumiton, AL 35148 (just off U.S. Highway 78). Viewing and visitation will be on Sunday, February 11, from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m., with the funeral service to follow.
In lieu of flowers or any other sort of memorial, Dennis requested that you make a special contribution to your church. He further requested that if you would like to make any other sort of memorial contribution, you could make it to the Grand Slam Club/Ovis Dennis Campbell Conservation Fund (Perpetual). Dennis began this fund with $100,000 at his death, and once again, wanted to encourage others to get involved with wildlife conservation by sending a tax-deductible contribution to this fund at GSCO, P.O. Box 310727, Birmingham, AL 35231.
Online condolences may be expressed at www.newhorizonmemorial.com.
New Horizon Memorial Funeral Home,