Beaufort County Community Services Director Morris Campbell is retiring this year after almost 35 years of public service for the county.
"Today's a day of recognizing me, but it's not a day that brings to an end the need for us to continue to recognize a lot of other people, because there are a lot of colleagues that help me," Campbell said at a special recognition ceremony Monday night. "It's been a privilege, it's been an honor, in fact, serving the people of Beaufort County. I pray that God will continue to bless all of us as we continue to be public servants."
The Hilton Head Island native began his tenure at the county as an elected official during two terms on County Council from 1981 to 1984.
Campbell then jumped to the administrative side, where he quickly became director of voter registration and elections in 1986 and deputy administrator for human services in 1991.
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Since 1993, Campbell has led the county's Community Services division. As its director, he coordinates with dozens of county outreach and nonprofit organizations, including the Disabilities and Special Needs Department, the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Department, the Collaborative Organization of Services for Youth, the Human Services Alliance, the libraries, Veterans Affairs and the Board of Elections and Registration.
"He has been a countywide leader with a deep commitment to the least among us," County Council Chairman Paul Sommerville said Monday night.
During an emotional speech following his recognition Monday, Campbell thanked his wife, Ida, and son, Quincy, for their support.
"I was always a hard-headed person and wanted to do things my way," Campbell said. "They often reminded me that you're not the only authority on all of the things that happen in life. You have to learn to listen to people and humbly accept their opinion."
Long-time friends Fred Washington and Bill McBride said that attitude has served Campbell and the county well over the years.
"One thing about Morris is it didn't matter who you work for, it's what you work for," said Washington, former chairman of the county Board of Education. "If you had a common interest, he tried to bring you to the table."
Campbell didn't shy away from offering his opinion, either, McBride teased.
McBride is the longest serving County Council member and served as its chairman during Campbell's tenure. Last year, he announced he will retire at the end of his term in 2016.
"Morris has always been a good friend of mine, but during my term as chairman, Morris made sure that whatever I was thinking, I knew what a was on his mind, whether I wanted it or not," McBride said with a laugh. "He was never short on giving me advice. I always appreciated that."
Campbell's last day with the county will be Friday.
Assistant county administrator Monica Spells will take over his community services roles as part of her Civic Engagement and Outreach division.
Campbell jokes that retirement means he'll eventually be more involved with his family's Gullah Heritage Trail Tours on Hilton Head, which is managed by his brothers, including renowned Gullah leader Emory Campbell. For now, though, he'll take a few months of rest.
"Don't spend too much time in the sunshine on the golf course," McBride teased.
- Longest-serving Beaufort County Council member to retire in 2016, Sept. 29, 2014
- Beaufort County considers adding $100,000 to Senior Services, Feb. 10, 2014