Writing About a Legend

By Jack Houvouras

Jack Houvouras

Writing has never come easy for me. That may come as an odd revelation from the editor of this magazine for the past 20 years, but it's true. While I inevitably take pride in the end result of my efforts, the process itself is often trying and laborious. Much of that stems from being a perfectionist and wanting to produce the best work possible at all times.

The task becomes all the more daunting when you are penning a story about someone you greatly admire. Such was the case when I tackled the story of Huntington legend Bill Campbell. I first met Campbell in 1990 when we profiled him in the second issue of the Huntington Quarterly. Not yet a golf enthusiast as I am now, I assigned the article to one of our staff writers, Michael Friel, who did an excellent job. Years later Ernie Salvatore wrote about Campbell's phenomenal amateur golfing career that culminated with his hard-fought victory at the 1964 U.S. Amateur Championship.

But 17 years have passed since our last article was published, and in that time I have had the opportunity to come to know Bill (as he insisted I call him even though it never felt completely comfortable) much more closely. He became an ardent supporter of the Huntington Quarterly and the positive things we were trying to achieve though the magazine. He was kind enough to invite me to play a dozen or so rounds with him at the famed Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Fla. During those special occasions when we walked the fairways of the seaside course I came to understand that there was much more to his life than golf. For those reasons I decided that he deserved a comprehensive cover story in our magazine and I should be the one to write it.

Bill is a man of many talents and interests. One of the finest and most generous gentlemen you will ever meet, he is a rare breed in today's world. He opens doors for others, stands when a woman enters a room, graciously introduces his guests to everyone and always has a kind word for others. I recall instances when I was struggling badly on the golf course; he would place his hand on my shoulder and tell me I had a fine swing and that "this too shall pass."

More than just the last great amateur golfer from a bygone era, he is an accomplished businessman, caring husband and father, statesman and ambassador for both Huntington and the game of golf. His interests and talents are as vast as the Ohio River that runs though his hometown of 87 years.

Interestingly, there were two things I learned from Bill over the years that helped me complete my story. The first was to simply do my very best. "That's all anyone can ask of you," he would advise. The second was to be a gentleman. At first I was compelled to produce the best article ever written about the man not an entirely improper goal. But I ultimately decided the article should have nothing to do with my personal desires. Instead, I chose to do the gentlemanly thing and show interest in something bigger than myself. That's something I learned from Bill.

Lastly, I felt it was important to write this article because there are generations of Huntingtonians, some of them not yet born, who need to know the life story of one of our city's most accomplished sons. Bill Campbell, and the traits that make him the finest gentleman I have ever known, is a name that should never be forgotten.

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