I first met Tim Campbell at Aramark in 2008. When I started at the company, I decided to get in early, and head to the company gym. A gentleman was working out next to me, and we exchanged greetings. I got to know Tim over time, learned that he was a former University of Georgia football player from their championship years, a former Navy Seal, and mostly…one of the nicest people you could meet.
Tim headed up Aramark’s correctional business, and he later transferred to the larger division of Aramark Healthcare. The first week of his new job, he pulled me into his office and asked me to explain how hospitals were paid. I asked for a day to prepare some materials, and the next day I sat in the corner office and explained to Tim the US healthcare payer system. “That’s just about the dumbest thing I ever heard,” Tim laughed. Much later, Tim and I got to discuss the Affordable Care Act and its implications for Aramark, the Aramark fellowship program, and the impact of presidential elections on business. His mind was geared toward solving problems; he was a masters-trained engineer. Yet, his soul was musical, and he loved to talk about his family.
Tim left Aramark, and joined Secur America, a security company. We stayed in touch. He loved education, and when I was on the CAHME board, a slot opened for a public member, which Tim filled in 2012. That next year, Tim left Corporate America, and became a small business owner. He purchased a Big Frog Custom T-shirt franchise, and ran a consulting firm specializing in executive coaching. He wanted to be closer to his family, stop getting on planes, and work within a community.
Tim brought discipline to CAHME’s operations as a board member, and pushed for defining our value proposition. We both shared a passion for CAHME, and when Margaret Schulte retired as CAHME’s CEO, Tim encouraged me to apply. I was concerned; going to a small non-profit and leaving the “business” end of healthcare was not something I thought I wanted. It was Tim who pointed out to me that CAHME was what I was passionate about, and that there are more important things in this world than the corporate ladder. “You can make a difference,” he said to me.
At our May 2017 CAHME Board meeting, Tim arrived late in the evening the day before the meeting. I called and suggested we go to the bar (as we typically did), get a drink, have some laughs and catch up. He said he was tired, had bronchitis, and promised to get breakfast the next morning. “That was different,” I thought. At the board meeting, Tim’s weight loss was evident. He talked about his medical issues, but said he was feeling better.
In June, Tim called me with the news that he had pancreatic cancer. He said he did not have long to live. He told me that he didn’t want a funeral, didn’t want people to just open their check books and be done with it. He told me one important thing, and asked me to tell other people about it: just do good for people. “Do something nice for someone,” he said. “I don’t want my death to be just about writing a check.”
Over the past 15 months at CAHME, Tim provided advice and support to me. This includes a phone call just last week when we discussed materials for the board meeting and membership meeting. At the call’s conclusion, I told Tim that I loved him, and he returned it. We both choked back some tears and said we would catch up.
CAHME is a better organization because of Tim, and, I must say, I am a better person because of him. The world has lost a humble man and a friend to many. We lost a man who made a difference in his community and his country. We lost a bona fide hero. Tim’s death reminds us to hug loved ones a little tighter today, and to remember the key to a successful life: just do something nice for someone.
Anthony Stanowski, DHA, FACHE
President & CEO