By Cecil "Zeke" Yount | Oct 09, 2012
Photo by: D. Leonard Jack and Sue Campbell

This past Saturday evening, my wife and I attended an end of season celebration at our favorite campground. We were going to celebrate a job well done by our friend. The ride took us through varying degrees of fall’s colors. The weather “up top” above the 5000’ mark on the Parkway was cold, wet, and deep in clouds. We spotted Elk, deer, and saw the after effects of the feral hogs along the roadside.

Over the past few years, it has been our pleasure to get to know Ranger Jack Campbell and his wife Sue. Jack has been the longtime resident ranger on Balsam Mountain and Sue has been his steadfast supporter throughout. Many, if not most of us, strive to attain a high level of excellence in our careers. Jack Campbell is one of the ones who succeeded.

Upon first encounter with Jack, visitors see this upright man with great bearing striding toward them with a steely look in his eye and his Ranger hat affixed smartly to his head.  That visage quickly turns into a friendly face with a smile and crinkles at the corners of his eyes. That is, if you are behaving yourself. If not, well, those eyes can seemingly penetrate right through skin and bone. Jack is a man who embodies “what you see is what you get.” There is no need to ruminate about what he means when he speaks.

The Balsam Mountain campground has been a smooth operating and pleasurable place to enjoy nature under Jack’s careful watch. This is a place you could go and know that your kids were safe and that a family atmosphere would be present. One of Jack’s great skills is heading off trouble before it starts. He truly believes that an ounce of prevention avoids a pound of intervention.

It isn’t all about law enforcement with Jack. He is extremely knowledgeable about the non-human critters that call the park home and can talk with you about the abundant wildflowers with ease. Jack Campbell is a man that you want to sit around a campfire with and hear his stories. I know because I’ve been blessed to have done it many times.

If a man’s worth can be counted in terms of friends, then Jack Campbell is a man of great riches. At the celebration of his 45th overall season and maybe, just maybe, final season on this mountain, he was surrounded by friends and family from near and far. There was a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face as he and Sue stood by the fire enjoying the company of those campers, who have come to call him “my friend.”

For more information, visit http://gr8smokieszeke.blogspot.com and www.bicyclehaywoodnc.org . You may also link to Zeke’s Great Smoky Mountain 2 Wheeled Adventures under Opinion on the Mountaineer’s website.