After nearly 20 years of working with Yazoo City, Henry Campbell said farewell to his position of Director of Parks and Recreation at the end of May.
Campbell was born on November 26, 1957 to Margaret Campbell and Henry Coleman, the youngest of eight children. He has lived in Yazoo City all his life, known to many by his family nickname, "Jughead.”
Campbell is married to Joyce Williams and they have five children together, two boys and three girls.
Campbell grew up in Yazoo City, graduating from Yazoo City High School in 1975 as a student and a successful athlete.
Campbell's athletic talent in baseball landed him an opportunity to be drafted by the New York Yankees, but he chose to attend college instead.
He earned a baseball scholarship to Jackson State University where he played from 1976-1978, while he studied in Physical Education.
Not long after college, Campbell enlisted in the US Army Reserves for six years as a Supply Specialist at the National Guard Armory in Yazoo City.
Campbell's career working for the city began when he took a job as a maintenance person for the Yazoo Housing Authority.
Not long after, Mayor Wardell Leach offered him the job as manager of the Wardell Leach Recreational Complex, allowing Campbell to be in charge of maintaining the grounds and facilities for sporting events year-round.
Campbell managed the complex from 1999 until 2009, when he was offered the position of Director of Parks and Recreation.
The job duties of the Director included maintaining the grounds and facilities of every park and recreational area in the city, including Sam Nicholas Field on Jackson Avenue, Wardell Leach Recreational Complex on 15th Street, the 19th Street Fields, Joe White field, Webster Street Park, and Goose Egg Park.
Campbell and his crew were also responsible for maintaining the ball fields and courts available for use year-round for different sports leagues, including Dixie Youth Baseball and Softball, Yazoo Christian Soccer Club, and other local flag football, basketball, and co-ed league softball clubs in the city.
During his time as director, from 2009 until now, Campbell has overseen a lot of changes and improvements that have been made to the parks around the city, from replacing the fences at Campanella Park to improving the bathrooms at Sam Nicholas.
Campbell credits CF Industries with donating the money to replace every scoreboard on every field, something that he had long planned to do before he retired.
Campbell's favorite part about the job was watching local children grow and develop their skills over the years on the ball field.
"I can tell you a thousand memories, not just with my kids but with other kids," said Campbell, "Just being close to kids, playing baseball and developing skills, just getting that first hit and that smile."
"God puts you in places to help people," Campbell continued, "Where I was, it wasn't by accident. Without God, I couldn't have done that job, I had to be humble to have that job."
Campbell said that his biggest challenge as director was managing the parks with a limited budget and manpower, saying it took all of their resources to get the job done.
"I never had a full staff. Even though I was the Director, I was a working director. I didn't come in and sit at my desk all day." said Campbell.
Though he loved his job, working out in the parks after years and years began to catch up to Campbell, eventually leading to a number of heath problems.
"It came to the point where every day my family was checking on me," said Campbell, "I didn't want my family to continue to worry about me. That's when I knew it was time."
Now that he is entering retirement, Campbell says he will be spending his time hunting, fishing, and traveling, but he will still be available for advice when the Parks and Recreation Board needs it.
While his replacement still has not been chosen, Campbell says he has a lot of advice for the incoming Director.
"Be ready to work," said Campbell, "It's not going to be a sit-down job."
Campbell says that he would like to see the Wardell Leach Recreational Complex expanded in the future.
"We need to create more fields. If you expand that and put more fields, and have all the ballplayers in the same area it makes it a whole lot easier," said Campbell.
He explained further by mentioning that other cities have complexes with many fields that are fully funded by tournaments and events by collecting money for admission, parking, teams, and concessions, which goes to field maintenance.
Campbell added that hosting tournaments at larger complexes can help support local businesses by bringing in visitors from out of town.
"They are sitting on a gold mine out there. If you build these fields, you get all these people in here on the weekends. You gonna fill up the hotels, they gonna go to our restaurants, everybody's gonna benefit." said Campbell.
Henry Campbell put a great deal of time and effort into being the Director of Parks and Recreation for the last several years, and he is happy to pass on the torch to the next generation, but our friend "Jughead" will never be too far from home plate.