James E. Campbell

James E. Campbell of Center, Texas, went to be with our Lord on November 12th, 2021.  

Funeral service will be held 2:00 p.m., Tuesday, November 16, 2021, at First Baptist Church in Center with visitation at 1:00 p.m.  John Snider, Bro. Marlin Cloudy, and Bro. Bobby Bressman will officiate.  Interment will follow at Oaklawn Memorial Park in Center.

He was born in Center, Texas on October 15, 1924 to Lacy Burke Campbell and Naomi Booth Campbell.  On June 14th, 1947 he married “the love of his Life” Mona Jeanne Jones.  They were married for 74 years.  They had three children: Angela, Jamie, and Rick Lane Campbell.  He and Mona always led by example for their children and grandchildren that they loved so much.  He is a member of First Baptist Church, where he served on financial committees.  

Mr. Campbell graduated from Center High School in 1941.  Following his graduation from high school, he attended Stephen F. Austin College from 1941-43 and then served two years in the Army Air Corps before returning to Center to run the family slaughter house business.

In the years that followed, Mr. Campbell served Shelby County industry in a number of ways.  He was a bank teller at the State Guaranty Bond Bank, a livestock inspector, and a rancher.

In 1956, Mr. Campbell entered the butane and appliance business in partnership with Alton Foundation when they founded Farmer’s Gas Butane Company.  In addition, he owned and operated Farmer’s Natural Gas Company from 1962 to 1980 when he donated the system to Stephen F. Austin State University.

In 1960, Mr. Campbell went into partnership with the Craycraft Brothers of Mount Enterprise to purchase the Center Auction Barn.  For 22 years, the partnership continued until 1982 when Mr. Campbell bought out his partners and became sole owner.

He was a member of the Board of Directors and past president of the Sabine River Authority of Texas where he met life long friends.

After more than 35 years leading Shelby County Savings Association/Shelby Savings Bank, as the driving force behind the creation of Shelby County Savings Association, then as chairman of the board, and the last few years as chairman emeritus.  Mr. Campbell retired from the bank’s board.

In 1973, he started General Shelters of Texas.  It is still in operation today.  He always said, “If you tell a customer you are going to do it, you damn sure better!”

Mr. Campbell’s devotion to his community and his contributions to East Texas developed from his love of helping people.  He is involved and contributes to Ducks Unlimited, Stephen F. Austin State University, the Roughrider Scholarships, and the local 4-H and FFA programs.

He was instrumental in establishing Center’s off-campus extension of Panola College.  He is also a past president of the Center Rotary Club where he received the Paul Harris Fellow award.

He served as president of the Alumni Association in 1980-1981 at Stephen F. Austin State University.  He was also a vice president and a member of the association board of directors.  He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012.  In 2012, the James Campbell Plaza was dedicated in honor of Mr. Campbell.

The Texas Industrial Development Council awarded him the Volunteer Industrial Developer Award Citation for leadership and personal contribution to the development of the economy in his community and in Texas.  The Shelby County Chamber of Commerce recognized him with the distinguished citizen award, its highest honor.

Above all, James Campbell loved his family and friends.  He always asked, “How can I help you? Can I do anything for you?”  He was a loving, caring husband, father, grandfather, and uncle who went out of his way to take care of his family in the most special ways.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Lacy Burke Campbell and Naomi Booth Campbell; his wife, Mona Jeanne Jones Campbell; daughter, Jamie Campbell Gamble; his son, Rick Lane Campbell; and former son-in-law, Randy McElroy.

He is survived by his daughter, Angela Koonce and husband David of Center; grandchildren, Michelle Permenter and Julianna Horst of Center; Cameron McElroy of Center, Collin McElroy (Hillary) of Center, Brooke Lane (Brad) of Cedar Park, and Ashton Campbell of Center; great grandchildren, Ethan McElroy of Center, Campbell Ryan Beck of Houston, Vivi Lane of Cedar Park, Eva Lane of Cedar Park, Connor McElroy of Center, Tucker McElroy of Center, and Olivia Jamie McElroy of Center; son-in-law, Stephen Gamble; daughter-in-law, Katrina Campbell and former daughter in law ,Tammy Lemoine.

Pallbearerswill be Scott Massey, Johnnie Hi Massey, Brad Lane, Roy Blackshear, Ethan McElroy, Randy Massey, and Frank (Bubba) Parker.  Honorary pallbearers will be Yazoo Thomas, Tommy Gray, Ashton Campbell, Nick Waters, and Shelby Savings Bank Board.

A special thanks for his caregivers, Linda Rushing, Kiki Johnson, Shikella Patton, Faith Arnold and the staff at Pine Grove Nursing Home for their loving care.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to First Baptist Church or a charity of choice.

Online condolences & tributes can be sent at

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