Curt Campbell believes in following God’s lead, not his own. It is a strategy that has paved his life path to serving others within the community he loves and in which he grew up.
After 19 years with the company, the 68-year-old has retired as an account manager at Orangeburg Coca-Cola Co.
As a member of the Orangeburg Rotary Club for more than 20 years and a member of the Downtown Orangeburg Revitalization Association and the Orangeburg Historical Society, he is equally committed to community service. Campbell is also a past member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Edisto Habitat for Humanity Board.
Whether he’s conjuring up pancakes for a fundraiser, mowing a neighbor’s grass, picking up trash on the street, donating much-needed blood at his local hospital, or cleaning up old, overgrown cemeteries, he’s still committed to making a difference in his home country Orangeburg.
“Rotary has a saying about service to yourself, and I think it’s important to be able to help someone … I’ve always had good teachers, coaches, and role models since I started serving The Times and Democrat newspaper, probably in 1960, through to the Citadel went, ”said Campbell.
He said community service was in his blood for a long time.
“I trained in soccer and football for a number of years at the Wade Hampton Academy and Orangeburg Prep. I used to be a deacon and elder in the First Presbyterian Church. I was a youth counselor. The work in the cemetery is now my committee, ”he said with a smile.
Campbell made four mission trips with his church to New Orleans after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. DORA’s Taste of Orangeburg event and Orangeburg Idol, the home version of the group’s hit ABC series “American Idol”, are both events brought about by Campbells and the work of other volunteers.
‘Like a family atmosphere’
Campbell said his work at Orangeburg Coca-Cola Co. was both rewarding and challenging.
What did he like most about his job?
“To connect with the people at work and the people in the stores,” he said.
“It was a lot of work with the folks at Piggly Wiggly, these grocery stores, convenience stores, other stores like Dollar General, CVS, and Walgreens, helping the young men fill the place up and make sure it was up to the standard of Coke meets the standards of business, ”said Campbell.
He said the coronavirus had forced him to adapt to changes in the workplace.
“COVID brought a lot of people into stores and stopped restaurants and fast food places for a while. So the grocery stores really moved for a while. We had to work smarter and more hours to get the products to the stores because some products were gone for a while due to a lack of aluminum cans, ”said Campbell.
He said working at the company was kind of a family affair.
“Working with Jim Avinger, the owner, and Dwight Frierson, the general manager, was a family atmosphere. I grew up with them. So it was a good, family-like work environment, ”said Campbell.
Frierson, President of Orangeburg Coca-Cola Co., said, “I grew up with Curt. We go to church together all our lives. We were not just work colleagues, but friends for over 60 years. It was a great relationship and I value Curt more than he knows. “
Frierson said Campbell was one in a long line of employees whose longstanding service with the company was valued.
“Curt was in public the whole time, of course. His community service was second to none. It has helped the community and us that he is in the public eye and represents Coca-Cola so positively, ”he said.
“We can’t ask for more … His public service is what sets him apart. He had community service in mind around the clock. He always pays attention to others and puts himself second, ”Frierson said, noting that Campbell was loved by those he served at Coca-Cola.
“He was an account manager. The people he called loved him. They talked about him all the time. He has made some incredible friendships over the years. Curt never met a stranger. He knows everyone and it was a pleasure and a privilege to have him work for us, ”he said.
The management of Piggly Wiggly on Columbia Road in Orangeburg presented Campbell with a retirement gift for years of service.
“They gave me a couple of golf balls, a fishing rod, and a cake as a parting present,” said Campbell.
He remembered one thing about his job that he didn’t particularly enjoy.
“When the crate of drinks you need was at the bottom of the pallet. The soft drinks business is very labor intensive, ”said Campbell, especially when struggling to pick up drinks from a dropped pallet.
“I brought a pallet of drinks to Mr. Leonard Sanford of Ace Hardware once, and the pallet turned when we got it from the truck. He had a parking lot full of rolling coke cans. It was what it was. They just shoveled up the damaged (cans), put them back on the truck, drove off and started reloading, ”he said.
“Good to have great parents”
Campbell is a son of the late Mike Campbell, a former city treasurer, and Katherine Campbell, a former math teacher and administrative assistant at Wade Hampton Academy and a freelance photographer.
“It was good to have great parents who showed my brother Randy and me what was expected and what was not acceptable,” he said.
Campbell said the teachers and leaders he has encountered from his time at Ellis Avenue Grammar School to the Citadel also made him the middle-class man he is today.
“At school you always had to move desks, pick up rubbish everywhere or move these devices from here to there. In the citadel you always had the opportunity to be taught and to teach continuously, ”he said.
As part of his volunteer work, Campbell is still cleaning fishing holes, donating blood at the Regional Medical Center and cleaning up cemeteries, as he recently did in the First Presbyterian Church cemetery with his dog, Rory.
“Lawrence Wienges, a veterinarian at Fort Motte, and I have been working over the past few years to reclaim a natural graveyard. It’s right next to the Episcopal Church at Fort Motte, ”said Campbell.
Campbell and his wife Tamra are the proud parents of their 29-year-old daughter Evan. He said his family’s support has helped him over the years too.
“You know public service is a priority. They almost gave me a free hand to do positive things, ”said Campbell, who is enjoying his retirement.
What does he do? Well, it had to include helping someone else.
“Do some kayaking and I enjoy going to baseball games. I mow some people’s grass for them. It’s good to be able to move where you can do things. When you start feeling sorry for yourself, you will see someone who has lost a leg or an arm. It will bring you back to reality very quickly, ”said Campbell.
“God has a plan that we don’t know. We just have to follow his example, ”he said.