Campbell Insurance Agency donates to library


CIA celebrates 100 years of business

John Ogden Campbell (John O.) remembers the day when he was a kid and the library was located at 403 Ridge behind the Saville Hotel.

“There was one librarian and one table,” he recalls.

When asked what books he liked to check out, he laughed and said, “I’m 92 years old. I don’t remember that.”

He may not remember what books he checked out as a kid, but he did build a respect and love for the library that hasn’t diminished to this day.

“I read two newspapers a day and have a stack of books I’m reading. This library has been a blessing because I can come down and donate them when I’m finished.”

Campbell continues to help his sons operate Campbell Insurance Agency. John O.’s father (John Roy Campbell) started the company almost a 100 years ago and the family has recently made a new donation to the library in that life bannerA charging stand allows patrons to plug in their electronic devices and recharge them while at the library.

“Back in the 70s, we gave the library the first computer the company used. We were upgrading to a newer one. George Cline loaded the Redshaw Computer into his pick up. It was as large as an eight-foot refrigerator,” John said.

Kirk Campbell said, “Dad was the No. 11 agency in the country to buy that specific computer for insurance companies in the 60s and dad gave it to the library in the 70s.”

Kirk explained, “That computer took up racks and racks of computer reels.”

Craig added, “It would take all night long to back-up and we had to keep a week to 10 days of back-up reels on hand.”

John was on the Security Bank board when the directors made the decision to sell the property to the county in the late 80s where the library is currently located.

“I was very excited about the property belonging to the people,” John said.

Craig and Kirk admitted to being “short read” type of librarian patrons.

“The crowning point of our life, is that all four of our children graduated from college. So they had to read — or else,” John said.

Craig remembered riding the bookmobile with his friend’s dad, Edwin.

“Mark and I would ride with his dad to Bruno Pyatt and the bookmobile would sit there as people would come and check out books. That was a lot of fun and good memories in the early 70s.”

Craig and Kirk both remember school teachers taking the students to the library when it was located by the hospital.

John added, “Schools did not have big libraries then, and teachers would come to the public library with their class of students.”

Campbell Insurance Agency often donates books and provides some magazine subscriptions each year.

“I take advantage of that tax deduction, too.” he laughed.

Librarian, Ginger Schoenenberger said, “We are grateful to businesses who donate to the library — and more people should take advantage of that tax deduction.”

John Roy Campbell established Campbell Insurance Agency in 1916. He would drive as far as Jasper and Western Grove to meet with customers.

John O. remembers when he returned to work during the summers in the family business, his dad would send him to Helena on a pump car to speak to the railroad workers.

“When the railroad workers agreed to take the health and life insurance policy, all they had to do was sign the form. Many workers had to sign with an ‘X,’ and the company would withdraw the funds from their paycheck.”

 “It was about $1 a month for a $10,000 policy,” John O. remembers.

“Two occurrences revolutionized the insurance business — Workers Compensation laws and the Safety Responsibility Act,” John O. said.

John O. returned to Harrison in 1954 with two college degrees, which he received with the GI bill. He had been in the Army Airforce and was stationed in France as a radio operator.

He first received a football scholarship from SMS. After the service he enrolled in the University and played on a fraternity football team, and he later made the varsity team between 1947-49.

“We were the Southwest Conference champions in 1949. We made it to the final eight in the U.S.” he said.

Craig joined the family business in 1988 and Kirk in 1991.

The men were asked, “Will the business last another 100 years?”

“It had better,” they both agreed.

Automation and computers have transformed the insurance business, they agreed.

“Now we can write a quote on an application policy and within a day or two get the information we need. It used to take 30 days to hear back from the companies we represent,” Craig said.

“Now that policy is downloaded into our system and not as labor intensive. Computers have been more than a blessing. The Internet has shrunk the globe. We have customers in 25 different states with the different niche programs we can offer,” Craig said.

John O. said, “In 1988, there was a consolidation of many insurance companies. We were very blessed when dad partnered with some fine insurance carriers over the years. He had a good reputation and when the companies consolidated, they pulled out of many agencies — but not ours.”

Kirk added, “Even with the benefit of computers, we are still a people business. We build relationships that matter with people in the community. We do advertise, but most of our new customers come to us by word of mouth.

We love happy customers and when they share the good news about our business, that breaks down barriers. It’s still all about the people.”

Schoenenberger agreed. “We are truly grateful for businesses and patrons like the Campbell family. We appreciate their generosity.”

Craig said, “Dad taught us to give back to our community. That’s why Campbell Insurance Agency will continue to sponsor our schools, athletics, the library and area Chambers of Commence.”

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