State News

Politicians, others pay respects to ex-auditor Campbell

Posted January 14, 2011 4:03 a.m. EST
Updated January 14, 2011 5:17 p.m. EST

— People paid respects Friday to Ralph Campbell Jr., the first black person to be elected to statewide political office in North Carolina, as he lay in repose in the State Capitol. Overhead, state flags flew at half-staff in his honor.

Campbell, 64, died Tuesday after a battle with lung cancer.

His casket arrived at the Capitol at about 10 a.m., accompanied by an honor guard. Gov. Beverly Perdue was there to greet his family and became emotional while standing over the casket.

"He was a good man. (He) loved North Carolina," Perdue said.

Former Gov. Jim Hunt, State Treasurer Janet Cowell and several state cabinet secretaries were among the steady stream of people to pay respects to Campbell.

"He was a bulldog for the voters and taxpayers of North Carolina," Hunt said.

Campbell was part of a prominent Raleigh family of civil rights activists. He served six years on the Raleigh City Council before being elected state auditor in 1992. He served three terms as auditor.

Hunt called the Campbell family "an example of courage and moral rightness in the history of this state."

"This is a family that is part of North Carolina's history, and Ralph epitomized the strength and integrity of the Campbell family," Perdue said.

She ordered that North Carolina state flags remain at half-staff through early Tuesday.

Lying in repose is a high state honor. The last person to be so honored was longtime Secretary of State Thad Eure, who died in 1993.

As Campbell was honored, state workers held their annual King Day observance at a church next to Union Square, where the Capitol sits.

A visitation was scheduled for 7 to 9 p.m. Friday in the Fletcher Opera Theater at the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh.

His funeral will be at noon Saturday at St. Ambrose Episcopal Church, 813 Darby St., followed by burial at Carolina Biblical Gardens in Garner. will carry Ralph Campbell's funeral live at noon Saturday.