Campbell, Joan Louise Hancock of Little Rock, AR, was greeted in heaven on Tuesday, June 9, 2015, by her beloved dogs - Magoo, Pepper, Rodney and Schwartz - and was joined by her parents and brother as they watched her first dance in perfect time and rhythm across the heavenly clouds with her forever adored hoofer, Gene Kelly. She was 80. Born July 2, 1934 in Minneapolis to John and Ernestine Hancock, she attended Saint Louis Park High School and became the school's first female president of the Student Council. She avidly swam the surrounding lakes to earn numerous AAU swimming titles, among them were: Junior National Swim Meet, the Midwest AAU breast stroke, a two-time winner of the 3-mile swim at Lake Pepin, the 3-mile Aquatennial swim, and the 1-mile Aqua swim. During the summer prior to her attendance at the University of Minnesota, she was coached by the U.S. Olympic swimming coach. In 1954 during her sophomore year at Minnesota, she tap danced her way toward earning the title of Miss Minneapolis and later that year finished up as Runner-Up to Miss Minnesota. She carried throughout her lifetime a deep affection and unwavering devotion to her Pi Beta Phi sorority, proudly belting out its song if ever asked if she was one, and forging friendships that lasted a lifetime. Her amassed achievements, emerging talents and graceful beauty launched her to become a cheerleader for the George Mikan-led Minneapolis Lakers. She also was the nanny to Hollywood movie actor Sterling Hayden. She met her husband, Dr. Gilbert Sadler Campbell, in San Francisco, while she was working for the upscale department store I.Magnin. They later married on September 28, 1961 in Oklahoma City. After moving to Little Rock in 1965, she lovingly raised her husband's four teenagers, each of them importing their unique set of challenges for her to contend with, while simultaneously rearing her own newborn daughter and son. Her boundless passion for dance and exercise was instrumental in bringing aerobics to Arkansas. Her prevailing spirit was for everyone to stay active and to keep moving - no matter how young or how old. She taught tap dancing to both kids and adults, and regularly volunteered at Lifequest to educate her students on the value of aerobic activity. Never shy to take a stage, no matter its formality or lack thereof, she performed as the "Wicked Witch" in the local Children's Theater production of The Wizard of Oz, evoking reviews of "she's a natural" and awarding her as "Best Actress" for that year. Among her close friends and neighbors, she was affectionately called "Bonie Joanie", given her lithe, athletic figure. She was constantly ordered to sit down by company but obstinately elected to stay standing, playfully smiling and commonly remarking, "You know me, I never sit." During her 46 years in their neighborhood, she imparted wonderful treasured memories to those throughout. Her fetish for theater and drama overtook their home's foyer each and every Halloween, converting it into a scary set decorated with an actual human skull (aka TJ), TJ's blood (red Kool-Aid) and her long-living 21 year old Persian cat, Black Magic. She had an especially gifted hand at training each of her dogs, perfectly conducting them as they performed a range of tricks and enthusiastically coaxing them as they attempted to bark out their flickering birthday candles atop their favorite hamburger treats. She had an unfailing ability to make a call or send a card on everyone's birthday and anniversary, and a remarkable manner of empathetically recounting a friend's personal memory of loss or misfortune. Her love of plants and flowers was throughout and around her family's home. She was a long-standing member of the Country Homes and Garden Club of Little Rock. As far reaching were her interests, so too was her unquenchable thirst for staying current on all them: politics, investments, cooking, literature, music, arts and community affairs. She forever maintained a strong belief in fulfilling her civic responsibility and tirelessly advocated for issues when others would not, single handedly spearheading the construction of a traffic light at her street's intersection to make everyone's daily driving safer. Her greatest fascination was nurturing and following all of her grandchildren's activities, both near and far, from the early years to the present day. She derived great pride and joy in seeing them all grow into intelligent, handsome, talented, caring young men. She instilled innumerable qualities that affected everyone she touched in immeasurable ways. Her one-of-a-kind character and her compassionate spirit will be sorely missed, fondly remembered, and treasured by all. The family would like to thank her physicians: Dr. Ron Robertson, Dr. Katie Kimbrough, and Dr. Tamayo: caregiver Pam Willis Black, and her over forty year-long housekeeper and extended family member Ruby Jones. The family thanks all those who have had her in their thoughts and prayers during this difficult loss. She is survived by her husband, Dr. Gilbert Sadler Campbell; daughter, son-in-law, and grandson Muffin, Bobby and Miles Smith of Little Rock; son, daughter-in-law, and three grandsons John, Viola, Patrick, Henry, and Andrew Campbell of Charlottesville, VA and four step-children: Kathy Campbell (Peter) and Rebecca Sadler of Ashland, OR; Tom Campbell (Jane) of Friday Harbor, WA, and William Campbell (Julie) of Oklahoma City. Joan was also survived by several step-grandchildren, step great grandchildren, and numerous relatives in Minnesota. A memorial service will be held at 2:00 PM at St. Mark's Episcopal Church on Thursday, June 18, 2015. A Celebration of Her Life will follow in the Great Hall. Funeral arrangements are by Roller-Chenal Funeral Home, 13801 Chenal Parkway, Little Rock, AR 72211, (501) 224-8300. Guestbook: rollerfuneral homes. com/chenal. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in loving memory of Joan Louise Hancock Campbell to the University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts, Pulaski County Humane Society, the Arkansas Repertory Theater, the National Sorority Pi Beta Phi, or an organization of your choice.

Published on June 14, 2015

Guest Book

Star Tribune reviews all guest book entries to ensure appropriate content.

Our staff does not correct grammar or spelling. FAQ