Herbert “Herbie” H. Campbell

MEXICO – Herbert “Herbie” H. Campbell, 70, of Mexico, Maine, passed away Thursday Dec. 31, 2020, at the Hospice House in Auburn with his loving stepdaughter, Jen, holding his hand. Herbie was born on Jan. 7, 1950, in Rumford to Francis B. and Louella (Lancaster) Campbell.

Herbie’s father started taking him to Hunt’s Auto Sales and Service when he was still in diapers. Which started Herbie’s love of all things automotive. Herbie had many different jobs throughout the years, but if they did not involve working on or driving a vehicle, they did not last long. When Herbie was very young and lived in Smith Crossing, he would have the bus driver drop him off at Dupuis Garage so he could lay on the floor (in his school clothes) next to Jake to watch as he fixed cars. I am sure his mother appreciated that.

More than working on them, Herbie’s greatest passion was driving. For years he drove stock car races, the only driver who put his whole body into shifting the car. Later he was on the pit crew for Dion Brothers Racing. Chris, his then girlfriend, was there to watch one of the races when Dave Dion won. She ran down and threw her arms around Herbie in celebration. One of the other pit crew members said, “You know that’s not Dave, don’t you?” Herbie would spend hours driving around the state not really going anywhere. He would decide on a Friday night he wanted to go out to supper and take off for Bangor to go to Millers Restaurant.

He also loved the big dump trucks and worked for Von and Sons Trucking off and on. No matter where he worked, he always ended up at Hunt’s Auto Sales and Service, even if it was just for a weekend. He became one of the Hunt family members which gave him another sister, Norine Clarke and her children became his niece and nephews. When Ernie Hunt died, Herbie ran Hunt’s full time for Mrs. Hunt. The only person who could make Herbie cower and say, “Yes, Mam or No Mam” depending on what he needed to say to get back into her good graces.

While running Hunt’s Auto, Herbie developed a very close relationship with Mike Morrison who ran the International garage next door. Herbie’s dog, Chris, who was a constant companion, also developed a close relationship with Mike, going to visit whenever she felt like it. Herbie and Mike became like brothers and Mike got Herbie to put on a tuxedo to be best man at his wedding. Something that shocked everyone who knew Herbie. The worst part of wearing it, for Herbie, was when he got up to make the toast and his pants fell to his ankles.

In the early 80s, Herbie added an extension to Hunt’s Auto for Gary Wentzell’s body shop. They had been good friends prior to that, but with the advent of working side by side every day, also became like brothers. They did a lot of traveling together going to swap meets and later on snowmobiling trips. Gary’s wife Charlene always remembered Herbie’s birthday and would make him a whoopie pie cake. Something he absolutely loved. People who did not know the two of them thought they must hate each other the way they threw insults back and forth. Those people did not understand it was when the insults stopped that everyone else tiptoed around them as Gary and Herbie were mad at each other and no one wanted to be perceived as taking sides. Luckily it would only last for a day or two and then the insults would start flying again.

When the state took the garage by eminent domain, he and Gary moved to Roxbury Road. He not only kept the name “Hunt’s Auto Sale”, he started an adult day care for his regular customers. Even handing out report cards for attendance, behavior, ability to get along with others, among other things. For those of you were part of that, you know who was naughty and who was nice.

In 1989 Herbie and Chris Abbott started dating and in 1991 made vows to each other for a lifetime commitment of love, respect and support. Along with that vow, he became “Dad” to her four children. He gave them all new experiences and took them to new places. Taught them how to snowmobile and drive when the time came. They did not always get along, what stepparent and kids do? But they all came to love him. Herbie had said he would never wear a tuxedo again. But he did the day he walked his daughter, Jen, down the aisle. That day his pants managed to stay up. Jen had made a comment to her mom one time that, “You could never cheat on Herbie, no matter where you go someone knows him.” It was never even a thought. Chris had an issue with a coworker one time who told her everybody loves to think others find them attractive. Her response was, “In my perfect world, no one but Herbie would find me attractive.”

When Chris’ father found out she was dating Herbie, his comment was, “Well she has definitely come up in the world.” At the time, Herbie was not sure if that was a compliment or an insult. He came to find out it was definitely a compliment as Herbie became like a son to Chris’ parents. When Iain, Herbie’s oldest grandson was asked what his favorite memory of Herbie was, he responded, “Going to Maine Maple Sunday with him.”

Once Herbie’s family grew, he discovered a new passion. Cooking. Herbie would have family gatherings for Mothers and Father’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries, Thanksgiving, Christmas and just because he wanted to. Along with Chris’ immediate family, her Aunt Dot would come down with Chris’ parents for those family gatherings. She also loved Herbie and thought he was just the sweetest thing. He even cooked for Chris’ Michigan family when he and Chris went to visit them and, you guessed it, they all loved him too and were so happy Chris had finally found her prince.

Herbie was a member of the Mexico Lions club for years and loved to run the food truck at varying functions. One year, Herbie wanted to add lobster rolls to the menu. Most of the members thought they would not sell and it would be a waste of money. Herbie said if they did not sell out, he would buy was what was left of the lobster meat. A few hours after opening, they were all gone. One year when club members were having difficulty finding a caterer for their yearly banquet, Herbie volunteered to do it. His stipulation was that he be able to buy the meat at Holmes Market in Dixfield and be the only one to have input as to the menu. They finally agreed, very reluctantly. Everyone said it was the best dinner they had ever had. Chris attended that dinner with him and after eating homemade custard pie for dessert, many members sought her out to tell her how wonderful her pies were. Chris laughed and responded, “I didn’t make those, Herbie did. I can’t make a custard pie to save my life and I’ve been trying for years.”

Herbie was also a longtime member of the Mexico Trailblazers so he really wanted Chris to learn to love snowmobiling. At first, she refused to even get on one, so he took the kids snowmobiling out in the field behind his house and taught them how to drive one. Her two younger boys kept bugging her to “Just try it Mom, you’ll like it.” To shut them up, she finally did. Snowmobiling in the winter became a family and friends thing and they went on many snowmobiling trips. Herbie did not like riding double so he bought the boys their own sleds and when Jen got her license, he bought her a car. Since she had never driven a standard, he had to teach her how to drive it and she developed a love of the standard transmission.

In 2009, Hunts Auto Sales was no more as Herbie sold it and the name changed. His day care attendees lost their fearless leader, but they never lost touch with him. Herbie then decided to buy a dump truck which he named “My Girl” and took to the car wash often to get her cleaned and polished. He and My Girl worked for Swasey Excavation and Manza until he went to work on his own on the pipeline in Augusta.

When it got to be too much for him to get in and out of My Girl, he hired drivers Bob Weston, Bill Hanson, Billy Scott and Mac Vaughn. In November of 2018 he realized it was not financially feasible for him to keep hiring drivers, so he sold My Girl. With the loss of any hope of driving her again, Herbie started a downhill slide.

Then one day he was visiting at his old garage, looking at the paper and a page fell out. He looked down and there was a picture of an older black lab needing a new home. Since losing his dog Chris, he had shown no interest in getting another dog. When he talked to Chris about it, his partner not his former dog, he said, “I just want to go take a look at her”. So on July 20, 2019, off they went to Lewiston SPCA . It was love at first sight for both of them and Lucy “Lulu” was his constant companion from then on. She will miss him more than anyone else.

Herbie is survived by Christine Abbott of Rumford; his stepchildren, Daniel Moore of Denver, Colo., Jennifer and Joe LaBelle of Rumford, Jason Weston of San Diego, Calif. and Jeff Weston of Littleton, Colo. Three grandsons, Iain Gurney of Rumford, Maxton and Wyatt Moore of Denver, Colo; his sisters, Harriet and Phillip Seavey of Concord, N.C., Dora Easter of Candler, N.C., Norine Clarke of Dixfield, his nephews, Brian and Maureen Clarke of West Hartford, Conn., Neil and Allyn Clarke of Littleton, N.H., John Ellingwood Jr., of Gorham, his niece, Melanie Clarke of Auburn and many nieces and nephews from all three of his families.

Herbie was predeceased by his parents, a brother, Francis A. Campbell and his sister, Mary Campbell.

Friends and family are invited to sign the online guest book and share memories with the family at http://www.meaderandson.com.

There are no funeral services scheduled at this time. Arrangements are under the direction of the Meader and Son Funeral Home, 3 Franklin St., Rumford.

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