Ashley Sawyer Campbell  Sr.


Rockland - Ashley Sawyer Campbell, Sr. died on February 1, 2019. He was born on December 24, 1918 in Montclair, New Jersey. He married Mary Letitia Fishler on July 18, 1942. They were married for 71 years and raised six children together.

He attended elementary school and high school in Montclair, and earned a B.S. at Harvard University in 1940. From 1940 to 1945, he worked for the Wright Aeronautical Company in Patterson, NJ designing and developing direct cylinder-head fuel injection in military aircraft. After the war, he earned an M.S. in 1947 and Sc.D. in 1948, both from Harvard. Also at Harvard, he was an Assistant Dean and Instructor in Mechanical Engineering in 1948, and an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering in 1949 and 1950. He was Dean of Technology at the University of Maine in Orono, Maine from 1950 to 1957. In addition to his responsibility for teaching, research, and service missions in technology, he administered the University of Maine Pulp and Paper Foundation and was awarded the foundation's annual award for his leadership. He moved to Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts as Dean of the College of Engineering from 1957 to 1968. He was a consultant to the government of Thailand on the new University of the South and to the U.S. Navy on NROTC curriculum revision. He returned to the University of Maine in 1968 as the Arthur O. Wiley Professor of Mechanical Engineering. He taught two introductory courses plus two advanced courses in thermodynamics. In 1970, he was selected as an Outstanding Educator of America. His students recall his clear presentation of material, readiness to help them understand the material, and upbeat attitude. He published research on the nature of fire and the textbook Thermodynamic analysis of combustion engines (John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1978), reviewed proposals for the National Science Foundation, and served on an NSF panel on undergraduate science education. He retired from the University of Maine in 1980. In that year his broad impact on the university was recognized by establishment of the Ashley S. Campbell annual award, the highest in the College of Engineering, for faculty who are outstanding in teaching, research, and public service.

Ash had numerous interests. He took to hiking early, climbing Mt. Adams in the White Mountains of New Hampshire at age four or five and was a life member of the Randolph Mountain Club (RMC). Early success fishing for trout in the Moose River in Randolph, New Hampshire sparked a long love of fishing. He played squash and tennis and enjoyed music, especially jazz piano, Gilbert and Sullivan, Rachmaninoff piano concertos, and Brahms' symphonies. He played the piano well most of his adult life, favoring songs popular in his youth as well as playing by ear.

Ash and Chen Sun started retirement in Randolph, where he was a town selectman for seven years and solidified the town's accounting. He was President of the Mount Crescent Water Company in Randolph from 1968 to 1983. They moved to Santa Fe for 10 years, returned to Randolph for four, then South Thomaston, Maine for six, and to nearby Rockland in 2008. In retirement he developed interests in furniture making, framing Chen Sun's paintings, constructing mobiles in the style of Alexander Calder, testing people for Myers-Briggs personality type, and writing his own word processing software. He and Chen Sun had many friends. He had a playful wit and natural charm that lead to many enduring friendships. He enjoyed listening to others and often followed his father's habit of drawing people out with questions. In later years, as his vision failed, he lost capacity to read but his desire to learn remained strong, and he delved into a wide range of topics, from cosmology to philosophy. A friend recently described him as "a true gentleman, kind and urbane".

He was predeceased by his parents, George Ashley Campbell and Caroline Sawyer Campbell, his older brother, Alexander Hovey Campbell, his son Benjamin Hill Campbell, and his wife Chen Sun, and his son-in-law Sam Gellens. He is survived by his children (spouses): Ashley Jr. (Martha Waller), Christopher (Margaret), Martha (Sam) Gellens, Gordon (Nedine), and Philip (Mary); nine grandchildren (spouses): Camilla (Timothy) Shannon, Toby (Anthon) Campbell, Katharine (Brandt) Lewis, Chandra (Ezekiel) Maloney, Benjamin (Marae) Campbell, Rosalie (Ryan) Westenskow, Saadya Gellens, Peter (Kelsey) Campbell, and Julia (Nick) Hafen; and 18 great grandchildren: Bernadette, Clementine, Heathcliff, and Ambrose Lewis; Miriam, Griffin, Charles, and Samuel Westenskow; Emma, Henry, and Claire Shannon; Nora, Esther, and Blythe Campbell; Bennett and Charlotte Maloney; and Reuben and Amelia Hafen.

His family encourages anyone who wishes to remember him to do so with a gift to a charity of their choice or to the RMC.
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Published on February 1, 2019
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