February 21, 1930 – November 5, 2019
Long-time Seal Beach resident and Long Beach State athletics department member Dan Campbell died recently on November 5th. He was 89 years old.
Coach Campbell was born in Price, Utah in 1930. He was the sixth of seven children. His father was the County Commissioner of Carbon County, Utah and his mother was a homemaker. He excelled in sports and music, lettering in football, basketball, and baseball along with playing the saxophone in a local jazz band. He was also a golden gloves boxer. In his senior year at Carbon High School his high school football team played for the state championship and he was the leading ground gainer in that game. He later played all three sports at the College of Eastern Utah after military service.
After high school he enlisted in the Navy and was stationed in San Diego and Hawaii. In both locations he took his football prowess to the gridiron and played on the Navy’s All-Pacific team. He also competed for the Navy tennis team in Hawaii. After four years in the Navy and one year back in Utah, he enrolled at the University of California at Santa Barbara and was again a standout on both the football and tennis teams. It was here that he met and married Martha “Marty” Hopkins in 1956. She was the true love of his life.
Immediately after graduation from UCSB he was hired as head football coach and athletic director of nearby Santa Ynez High School where he worked for four years. This began a love affair with coaching that lasted for almost another 30 years. One of his Santa Ynez teams won the CIF state football championship. That victory, along with a consistent winning program, got him noticed by college football programs. In 1962 he was hired as an assistant football coach at what was then Long Beach State College. After several years of coaching football he became the tennis coach at Long Beach State in 1964. Just two years later, in 1966, his Long Beach team came in second place in the Division II NCAA championships in Chicago. A year later his team won the tournament, bringing Long Beach State its first ever national championship.
For the next 23 years his teams, now in Division I, won numerous conference championships and he amassed an impressive 71% winning record in the 548 matches he coached. He retired in 1990, and at the time had coached longer than any other coach in CSULB history. He also earned his master’s degree in physical education during his time at Long Beach State. In 1990 the university recognized his achievements and he was inducted into the California State University Long Beach Hall of Fame. Several years later he would be likewise inducted into the hall of fame at the College of Eastern Utah.
Coach Campbell took a year off in 1975 to participate in the Fulbright Teaching Exchange Program which allowed him to exchange faculty positions with a professor in England, where he taught at Madeley College. His wife and family, including two high school age sons, spent the year with him in England.
Three of his many hobbies were sailing, skiing, and golf, and he and Marty did all three as often as they could. Skiing usually took place at Mt. Holly ski resort near Beaver, Utah where they owned a condo. He would fish in the summer when he wasn’t sailing, and ski in the winter. Their passion for sailing culminated in a post-retirement four-year cruising trip on their 40-foot sailboat – leaving from Long Beach, with numerous stops in Mexico, travelling through the Panama Canal, stops throughout the Caribbean, and finishing in Washington, D.C. That trip defined their retirement years and provided the base for future sailing, skiing, and travelling adventures throughout the world.
For his 75th birthday Marty bought Dan a skydiving trip which kindled an entirely new adventure – aviation. Dan purchased an airplane and he earned his private pilot certificate just short of his 80th birthday which was a tremendous accomplishment. Like he always did he got the family involved and the result of his love of flying is that he has one son who is a pilot, two grandsons who are professional pilots, and a granddaughter in her senior year in a university aviation program.
He was a member of the American Legion and for many years was a counselor at Boys State in Sacramento. He also tried his hand at broadcasting. He was the radio voice for the Long Beach State 49er football and basketball games and even had his own sports radio show at KNAC 105.5 in Long Beach for a few years.
Dan is survived by his wife Marty, sons John and Danny, six grandchildren, and eleven great-grandchildren. His last five years were difficult as he had cognitive impairment and numerous physical ailments. Upon his death one of the first things Marty said was, “He lived a life of adventure and he took me with him.”