Harold Campbell might have been deaf, but you wouldn’t dare use the “H” word to describe him.

“He didn’t like being called handicapped,” daughter Mary Bryant said, “because he felt he could do anything that any hearing person could do.”

Mr. Campbell, 94, known as “Hal,” died from COVID-19 on Saturday, May 30. He had been living at ManorCare Health Services in Huntingdon Valley after residing for nearly 50 years in Northeast Philadelphia.

Mr. Campbell, born in Altoona, Pa., in 1926, and had been deaf since he contracted scarlet fever as a 7-year-old. He attended the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf in Mount Airy before joining The Inquirer as a pressman. Complete records aren’t available, but his daughter figures he was at The Inquirer for three decades before retiring in the mid-1990s.

“He loved working there,” Bryant said. “He was on the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift.” Newspaper production equipment of that time generated dangerous levels of noise. As a result, deaf people often were hired as pressmen and printers.

“It was a good career path for those guys, and they were terrific at it,” said Kevin Bevan, a former news editor for the Daily News. “And then they learned new technology as computerized and cold type came along.”

Mr. Campbell still had his old printer’s box in the family home at Woodhaven and Knights Roads.

Mr. Campbell met Carolyn Ambrose at a function for the deaf in 1969. They married in 1972, and soon she and her five children moved to Philadelphia.

“He took over like he was our dad, and it was that way ever since,” Bryant said.

Mr. Campbell met his wife, Carolyn, at a function for the deaf in 1969 and married her three years later.
Photo Courtesy of the Campbell Family
Mr. Campbell met his wife, Carolyn, at a function for the deaf in 1969 and married her three years later.

The Campbells taught their children sign language and the importance of education. Mr. Campbell also had a special custom with Mary.

“We would get the Inquirer crossword puzzle, but he wouldn’t share it with me. I would have to get my own paper so that we could do them together,” she said. “We’d see who could get the most answers without cheating.”

In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Campbell is survived by daughter June, sons Robert and Thomas, nine grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by son David.

Ed Barkowitz, ebarkowitz@inquirer.com