Patrick and Beryl Campbell Charitable Trust

Patrick and Beryl Campbell

In recognition of a million dollar gift from the Patrick and Beryl Campbell Charitable Trust, the green space immediately to the north of Brentwood’s new Dining Room and Student Services Centre is named Campbell Common. Framed by Mount Baker in the distance and overlooking Mill Bay and the marina in the foreground, Campbell Common serves as a permanent reminder of Pat and Beryl’s commitment to youth and education.

Tripoli’s bleached blue sky is as faded as worn denim. Palm fronds rustle and rasp in the sand-sparkled wind that snaps the colourful hijabs of the women who wander, arm in arm, towards the labyrinth of souks. Here, under high vaulted ceilings, shoppers move through a happy chaos of color, sound, and aroma as they investigate the wares of each vendor.

Beryl Ellison loved these bazaars and Patrick Campbell loved Beryl. He was in his mid-40s when he met her, and well into his career. His first million dollars had been accumulating interest for many years. Winning Beryl’s hand in marriage, however, would be as challenging as anything he had faced in his astonishing career.

Tripoli’s boisterous bazaars are half a world away from the tranquil beauty of Bowen Island, British Columbia. This idyllic setting provided the backdrop for an act that was originally interpreted as rebellion. Pat Campbell was a reluctant scholar. Although he was an able student, ultimately earning a degree in engineering from UBC, Pat’s adventurous nature and zest for athletics were smothered by the confining strictures of the classroom. A lecture theater was no substitute for a lacrosse box. When he graduated from UBC, therefore, Pat fled Vancouver for Bowen Island where, much to the chagrin of his family, he became a taxi driver. Much to his own chagrin, however, the three-time recipient of UBC’s "Big Block" award for proficiency in athletics was summarily ordered by the family’s matriarch to relocate to Ontario where he could be guided by his brother, Dan. He obeyed and was soon working for Williams Brothers (Overseas) Ltd. What began as a mother’s remonstrance culminated in the adventure of a lifetime.

As an oil pipeline engineer, Pat Campbell had a ticket to the world. It took him first to South America where he co-managed a pivotal accomplishment in Williams Brothers’ history. The 390-mile pipeline connecting Santa Cruz to Sica Sica in Bolivia reaches an elevation of nearly 14,800 feet above sea-level, making it the world’s highest pipeline. This feat cemented the company’s reputation for its ability to complete logistically difficult projects; it also cemented Pat’s reputation as the "go to" man for seemingly impossible jobs and his next challenge would be equally daunting: the construction of the Trans-Ecuadorian pipeline.

As the years progressed and as Pat’s expertise grew, he became notoriously adept at winning bids for complicated jobs; consequently, he earned a great deal of money for his company. Because a portion of his wages was paid in shares, he also began to earn a great deal of money for himself. By 1971, he was president of the overseas division of Williams Brothers.

Despite his lofty title — or perhaps in defiance of it — Pat lived the life of a new frontiersman. A steadfast correspondent, he documented his adventures in the faithful stream of letters that found their way across the globe to family in Canada. Even when lived vicariously by readers, his life was breathtaking in its scope and intensity. Bearing the postmarks of England, Nigeria, Gabon, Lagos, Iran, Libya, Portugal, Algeria, and Senegal, the letters are rich in detail. From job contracts to elephants, Pat’s knack for "telling it all" has helped to create a valuable historical archive. For example, one letter describes flying in a chopper over the Niger Delta to survey a potential oil field in the middle of a mangrove swamp, travelling in speed boats through the rivers and creeks of the delta, taking a small single engine plane to Gamba, a very remote oil field about 150 miles south of Port Gentile, Gabon (viewing herds of buffalo, elephants and wild boar from the air), before flying on to London via Portugal. Quite something for the mid-1960’s!

Beryl Ellison — beautiful, modern, fashionable — was content in her career as a secretary with William Brothers. She had re-located from England to Tripoli, and the exotic locale with its vibrant culture and splendid weather was a perfect foil to her spirit and vivacity. Although she was as smitten with Pat as he was with her, she was reluctant to leave the job she loved for a man whose responsibilities made him a veritable vagabond.

Pat was relentless in his suit, adopting the mantra "if the mountain won’t come to Mohammed, Mohammed must come to the mountain." His feelings for Beryl brought a new lyricism to his letters: "…tonight, the sunset was something to behold; it was getting quite dark and the sky on the horizon was a glorious red. Combined with the sound of the breakers and the white caps, [it was] very romantic and I was wishing desperately that you were here to share the peace and quiet and beauty of it all."

Ultimately, Pat won the bid of his life: he and Beryl were married in 1967. They moved to London, where they were married and lived as newlyweds for five years.

In 1972, they retired to Bermuda where the fruits of Pat’s considerable labour were enjoyed in the pursuit of such pastimes as golf, fishing, bridge, and socializing. They had a special fondness for the people of Bermuda whom they found to be unusually generous, kind, and gracious. During this time of their lives, the couple also trained their attention on the future and their philanthropic responsibilities.

A passion for education burned bright in the hearts of Pat and Beryl Campbell. Childless, they insisted that all of their nieces and nephews be educated at university. Pat’s mother had been a teacher (she had wanted to be a lawyer but her father wouldn’t let her); her siblings were doctors and dentists. The pursuit of higher education was in the family’s genetic code. During his lifetime, Pat contributed over $2 million to UBC, establishing the Patrick D. Campbell Chair in Mechanical Engineering in the Faculty of Applied Design, the Mairi Grant Campbell Fellowship in English Literature, and the Patrick David Campbell Graduate Fellowship for a masters or doctorate in the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Determined to create a legacy of philanthropy that would continue their good works long into the future, Pat and Beryl established a trust to support charities in Bermuda and Canada. The annual interest from the Pat and Beryl Campbell Trust now does generous duty in fulfilling the selfless ideals of two individuals whose vision was to help those who could not help themselves. Annually, the trust generates income which supports, in Bermuda, such non-profit organizations as Harbour Lights for Alcoholics, PALS (care for cancer patients), and Sunshine League, a group home for children who do not live with their parents. The trust also supports Knowledge Quest to financially assist students who could otherwise not attend university.

In Canada, the Patrick and Beryl Campbell Charitable Trust has provided tremendous support for the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation and Brentwood College School. Facilitated by Pat’s nieces, Diane Zell and Mairi Pigeon, the Campbell Trust helped to build our new dining room and student centre. Mother of two Brentonians (Graham, Class of 2006, and Allison, Class of 2008), Diane echoes her uncle’s commitment to education: "If we support students today, they will become future leaders."

Pat Campbell died on October 1st, 1996; his darling Beryl followed in November 1997. Their idealism continues to flourish.

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