60 years of service: Retired educator honored by city

The Middlesboro City Council honored retired educator Bebe Campbell during a meeting on Tuesday, bestowing on her the title of Admiral of Yellow Creek.
Mayor Rick Nelson called on council member Boone Bowling to make the presentation.

“Today we’re going to honor Bebe Campbell,” Bowling said. “Most people know her as Miss Campbell, but for those of you who don’t, it’s Bebe Campbell. She’s been teaching for 60 years.”

Bowling pointed out Campbell was being recognized with one of the highest honors the city has to offer, the designation of Admiral of Yellow Creek.

He then read a prepared biography of Campbell.

“The daughter of Steve and Hazel Fuson Turner, sister to Sandy Conner, the first female ever elected class president at Middlesboro High School, a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University and Union College, Bebe Campbell began teaching in Bell County at Union Grade School in a four-room building that welcomed grades one through eight in 1960 – 60 years ago,” Bowling said. “After teaching at Union Grade, she transferred to newly constructed Ward Chapel Elementary in Bell County. Superintendent Bill Slusher asked her to move because new state standards required a music program to be implemented, and she was the only person available to fill that role at the time.”

Bowling said Campbell’s parents donated her piano to help.

“While at Ward Chapel, she also taught evening GED classes in adult education,” Bowling continued. “After that, she moved to Chicago and taught in the Mount Prospect area. City life didn’t agree with her, so she returned home to teach in Middlesboro at both East and West End elementary schools. Upon retiring from Kentucky public schools, she found that retirement didn’t settle well with her either, so she went to work at Gateway Christain School teaching fourth grade, where she remained until her most recent retirement in July 2020.”

Bowling mentioned in addition to teaching elementary school, Campbell also taught piano lessons in her home from 1983 until 2020. She hopes to return to teaching piano once the current public health situation allows.

Campbell is also a member of East Cumberland Avenue Baptist Church, where she has attended since early childhood and continues as a faithful musician and member.

“A loyal client of JC Penney hair salon for decades, Bebe’s only moments of self indulgence each week for decades were enjoyed while getting her hair ‘done’ at the mall,” Bowling said. “The closing of the store brought a sense of panic to Bebe’s happy place, but we’re pleased to report she has found a new beauty shop in Middlesboro, and all is well with the world. This time, Bebe has promised to remain retired. Reports indicate that she has been busy making her nest at home while getting caught up on episodes of Gunsmoke and Bonanza.”

Bowling then presented Campbell with the certificate.

“Those 60 years didn’t seem like a job,” Campbell said. “It was just something I did and loved.”