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Mary E. Campbell, 92

Mary Elizabeth (Beth) Miller Campbell of Saxtons River, Vt., a former Westport resident, died Nov. 21 of complications associated with her long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. She was 92.

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Mary Campbell: former Westporter. Contributed photo

Born June 16, 1924 in Lorain, Ohio, she was the daughter of Otto Miller, Jr. and Irene (Duffy) Miller. She had a brother, Otto Miller III, and a sister, Joan Irene (Miller) Saunders.

When Beth was 10, her father abandoned the family, and she and her siblings spent much time with relatives; especially with her Aunt Marie, and her Grammy Tyler, and she later reveled in telling stories of the love she felt and the good memories she had of being under their wings.

Beth’s mother, known to the family as Ahben, was a Broadway show singer and dancer and her travels caused Beth to attend schools in New York City and Westport, where she attended Staples High School.

She had intended to go to Smith College before the onset of World War II. She was, as a very young woman, the chairperson in raising funds for an ambulance that was successfully bought and shipped toward Britain before the United States entered the war. The transport ship unfortunately was sunk en route to Europe. She went to work for a defense contractor in Bridgeport.

She was also active in the USO during the war. As the war effort started to subside, she became a dance instructor for Arthur Murray Studios, her dexterity continued to amaze her children well into her 80s. It was during this time she met her future husband, Robert Mosher Campbell. They had moved to New York City and married in March 1945. She worked at Saks Fifth Avenue and loved the city.

In 1948, Beth’s husband Bob was offered a job at Vermont Academy in Saxtons River, Vt. nd they decided to move to this small Vermont village with their two small children.

Two children became four, and then even more as Beth eventually gave birth to 11 children; Robert Campbell, Jr., Saxtons River, Elizabeth Campbell Chromec, Saxtons River, Averill Campbell Larsen, Saxtons River, Michael Campbell (Erin O’Hearn), Boston, Sean Campbell (Joan), Saxtons River, Peter Campbell, Washington D.C., Margaret Campbell LaCoste, (Don) Northport, Maine, Charles Campbell (Julie), Arlington, Va., William Campbell (Gina), Greenfield, Mass., Sarah Campbell, Saxtons River, and Matthew Campbell, Greenfield, Mass.

Beth was always active, gracious and caring. Even while tending to her own large brood she was known for her generosity in taking care of neighbors and involving herself in community issues she felt strongly about.

She was an advocate for good schools and for improving the appearance of Saxtons River. She was a talented cook and hostess. She had a great many friends in Saxtons River, Bellows Falls, Walpole and surrounding communities.

She had a knack for decorating and her skill was abundantly clear throughout the historical home she and her family restored in 1957. In 1973, Beth, with her husband and daughter, bought and restored the Saxtons River Inn. Beth put endless energy into bringing a bright and colorful, but totally eclectic style to the Inn where each room had its own truly original look.

Family lore is thick with stories of her exploring the Northeast looking for just the “right thing.” The result was a notable building attracting attention nationwide and bringing customers from around the world.

The Inn was eventually sold and Bob and Beth began to spend several months a year in Honolulu, Hawaii. Beth loved the warmth, the sun, and being in a city again. She spent much time volunteering and making friends at the Honolulu Art Museum.

She loved to travel and visited many European cities and countries. Unfortunately Alzheimer’s was to begin to take its toll and the long trips to Hawaii and other destinations were no longer possible.

She is survived by her husband, Bob, all of her children, and 12 grandchildren: Christopher Campbell, Missoula, Montana; Matteo Campbell, Cambridge, Vt.; Meghan Campbell, Portland Ore.; Molly Campbell, Golden Colo.; Silas Campbell, Golden, Colo.; Rachael Chromec, Springfield, Ohio; Caitlyn Campbell, Washington, D.C.; Luke Campbell, Denver, Colo.; Laura Campbell, Boston; Tyler Campbell, Burlington, Vt.; Sylvia Campbell and Desmond Campbell, Boston; and five great-grandchildren: DiDi Campbell, Portland Ore.; Ila and Rueben Campbell, Cambridge, Vt.; Rhett and Otis Campbell, Golden, Colo.. She is also survived by her nieces and nephews; Pamela Miller, Fairbanks, Ark., Paul Miller, Chardon, Ohio, Peter Miller, Burbank, Calif., and Elizabeth Miller, Nashville, Tenn.

She was predeceased by her parents and her brother and sister.

A memorial gathering for family and friends will be held on Saturday, Dec. 3 at 5 p.m. at the Saxtons River Inn in Saxtons River.

Memorial donations can be made to the American Alzheimer’s Association 300 Cornerstone Drive, Suite 130, Williston, VT 05495 or the Bob and Beth Art fund, Vermont Academy, P. O Box 500, Saxtons River, VT, 05154.

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