Felicia Florine Campbell, 1931-2020

Felicia Campbell seated in her office

We are saddened by the passing of Dr. Felicia Campbell on July 27, 2020. Without her, there would be no Far West Popular Culture Association, and the many lives she touched would be much poorer.

Her longtime friend H. Peter Steeves has shared some words that put her remarkable life into perspective:

When seen from a certain angle, Felicia Campbell did everything wrong in life. She didn’t obey. She bit the hand that fed her. She refused to do what everyone else was doing. She took the craziest job offer she received, wouldn’t conform to the traditions at her workplace when she got there, and wouldn’t leave when told it was appropriate more than five decades later. She laughed at the idea of being directed by, or bound in life to, a man. She wouldn’t keep quiet. She wouldn’t keep still. She liked wild, wide-open spaces…and wolves. She cared about things other people wouldn’t care about until years later. She acted instead of just talking about acting. She even “drank wrong”—taking her martinis the way that 007 did: frequently and made with vodka instead of gin.

Felicia Campbell in her office

Born during the Great Depression in Cuba City, Wisconsin to an educated but working class family, young Felicia was already engaged in mostly wrong behavior for a girl: she loved to read. Eventually, this led her to college to study English. Still, instead of getting a Bachelor of Arts for her degree from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Felicia went for a B.S. because she loved science, too, and wanted to take the science classes usually reserved for men. She earned her Bachelor of Science—in English—in 1954. It was then expected that she might go into teaching middle or high school, a fair aspiration for a woman of her Midwestern generation, but instead, Felicia had recently learned that the U.S. Marine Corps had never graduated a woman as an officer. This seemed wrong. Plus, she wanted a challenge and an adventure. So she joined the Marines. Once in the program she didn’t do what she was told to do, or willingly take what she was told to take, when she thought it was inappropriate—a “wrong” trait that tends not to go over well in the Corps. For months she tried to change the culture from within, especially the way the women were being treated. She finally decided that the system couldn’t be changed internally, so she let them know. They told her she could leave but it was a big mistake. She told them she simply had had enough, and she was going to change the culture at large so that such changes would eventually find their way into every corner of society, including the armed services. She promised herself to be semper fidelis—to a higher set of standards and morality….. [READ MORE]

To read all of Dr. Steeves’ tribute, click here.