Last week saw the departure of an old and dear friend. Thankfully, this departure was in the form of a move from Winslow to Phoenix and not the final move that so many of my dearest friends have made lately. Nevertheless, I will miss walking (when I am able to do that again) over to the Circle of Friends Home and visiting with Helen Campbell, who will always probably be Helen Sullivan to me.
Helen was both of my children’s kindergarten teacher. That did not make her or them unique. My guess is that the number of people who remember her fondly as their first teacher reaches the thousands. She was an exceptional teacher, woman and general all-around good citizen. She raised two highly successful sons, one of whom is numbered among my favorite students.
You have probably read about Helen and her grandson, Cory Sullivan, who is currently playing professional baseball with the Colorado Rockies. Cory was a finalist for the Dick Howser Award as the collegiate player of the year during his senior year at Wake Forest. He has played professionally for three years and improved his statistics every year. He hit .300 last year for the Tulsa Drillers, Colorado’s AA affiliate. He is described by Rockies officials as a solid player in all phases of the game. My guess is that he may require another year, possibly even two, of high minor league seasoning, but that he will be a genuine major leaguer within two seasons. He is, of course, a source of great pride for Helen and her family.
Sean Sullivan was one of my best and favorite students. He has lived a prosperous and successful life since leaving Winslow and currently resides in Evanston, Wyoming with his wife, Gerri. Gerri is also a native of Winslow, the daughter of the late Milton Herrera.
Helen will be making a permanent move to the warmer climates of Phoenix where her other son, Mike, lives. Mike was known as “Silky” when he was a star multi-sport athlete at Winslow High School. He is a successful attorney now. No doubt, Sean will be visiting her soon when he comes to see Cory in Spring Training with the Rockies in Tucson.
Sean keeps in touch by e-mail and has read this column before you (dear readers) are seeing it in print. In fact, he has suggested some useful and necessary changes which have been made. Hopefully, he will continue to keep me informed about Helen, Cory and himself.
The large turn-out for a farewell party for Helen on Jan. 22 was a testimony to the impact she has had upon this community and the love they (we) feel for this remarkable woman. She will be missed. However, I will entertain the hope of seeing her at Bank One Ballpark during some future Rockies-Diamondbacks game.
Mere words will never be enough to pay proper tribute to a woman like Helen Campbell. However, it would certainly be remiss not to try. She gave us the very best, she is the very best and she will be missed. Winslow is a far, far better place for her having been here.