In the early morning hours of November 19, 2020, our family lost, but heaven gained, a bright and shining North Star.
Morris Robert Van Campen was born in Columbus, Montana, on January 2, 1939. His proud parents were Alice (Guthrie) and Marion Van Campen. He joined his older brother James, and the family was surrounded by a loving number of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and life-long friends, each nurturing the others through good times and bad. The young family lived in Reed Point, Montana, and ranched out on Countryman Creek, where the young boys, along with numerous cousins and friends, enjoyed roaming the surrounding hills and valleys along the beautiful Yellowstone River.
It was as young man that Morris first gained a love of aviation and received his pilot's license at the age of 17. In 1957, Morris graduated from Reed Point High School as second in his class, one of three graduates. The tongue-in-cheek class motto was "When Shall We Three Meet Again." After high school, Morris joined the Air Force and served from 1956 through 1962. He spent time at several postings but the most memorable being two years at the Galena Air Force Station, located on the northern bank of the Yukon River, 350 miles northwest of Anchorage, Alaska.
After proudly serving his country, he moved back to his beloved Montana, and enrolled in Eastern Montana College in Billings to major in Social Studies Education with a minor in Russian Language.
Morris met Evelyn Marie McKamy at a Thanksgiving dinner on a snowy day in 1962. The couple was engaged to be married two weeks later. It was love at first sight and they were married at the First Presbyterian Church in Greybull, Wyoming, on June 8, 1963. After graduating from college, and with son Gerald in tow, the young family moved to Miles City, Montana, where Morris began a lifelong career in education.
Two beloved daughters, Heidi Marie and Christy Jo, were born in Miles City with a loving Morris and Evelyn providing care and nurturing through the years. In 1975, Morris received his master's degree in education from the University of Montana and moved from classroom teaching into school administration. He was extremely supportive and proud when Evelyn graduated from Miles Community College in 1982 with a degree in nursing, achieving a life-long goal of becoming a registered nurse. After spending time in Bridger, Montana, as Superintendent of Schools, the family moved to Glendive, Montana. Morris spent several years in Glendive as a school administrator and retired after a 42-year career.
After several years enjoying retirement in Glendive, Morris and Evelyn moved to Idaho Falls, Idaho, to be closer to family. His last years were enriched by many friendships and special people at the Fairwinds at Sand Creek retirement community.
Morris was a 60-year member of the Masonic Lodge, serving as Grand Master. He was a member of First Presbyterian Church in Miles City and long served the school administrators of Eastern Montana. He enjoyed hunting and fishing in the Eastern Montana outdoors, repairing and playing guitars and banjos, wood working and always took special pride in his children's and grandchildren's accomplishments. He was a kind, patient, loving son, husband and father.
He is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Evelyn Van Campen; son, Gerald Van Campen (Gwendolyn Wilson) and granddaughter Erin Van Campen (Cannon Atkinson); daughter Heidi Galbreth (Greg) and grandson Mitchell Galbreth (Sarah Castagna) and granddaughter Hannah Galbreth; daughter Christy Van Campen (James Lorengo) and granddaughter Kaiya; brother Marion James Van Campen. In addition, he is survived by beloved extended family, life-long friends, fellow educators and students too numerous to count but so cherished.
Graveside services will be held next summer at the Mountain View Cemetery Columbus, Montana.
Should friends wish to honor Morris' enduring love for children please consider a gift to the Ronald McDonald House Charities at 26345 Network Place, Chicago, IL 60673-1263 or online at rmhc.org.
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