She was a life-long lover of Scottish Terriers, long-time breeder and member of the Scottish Terrier Club of America, active volunteer in her D.C.-area Scottie club, columnist for Great Scots Magazine since the first issue, and a personal friend and supporter for which I am in her debt. Vicki Campbell, known to GSM readers as the voice of ‘HealthWatch’ for 17 years, died January 20, 2013, in hospital, after lingering illness.
Her kidneys failed a few years ago, putting Vicki on dialysis. She had so many health complications including two heart surgeries there was every reason in the world to ‘call it quits’ —certainly from writing her GSM column —but she didn’t. She was the quintessential ‘Diehard’, in so many ways like the Scotties she adored.
I came to know Vicki through Scottie collectibles, a year before I launched GSM. I was a professor in east Tennessee making Scottie clocks as a hobby. Vicki was recovering at home in Waldorf, MD., from serious injuries in a car wreck. She contacted me to order a couple of my clocks as gifts for friends who took care of her kennel of Scotties while she was hospitalized. The idea for a Scottish Terrier magazine was brewing in my head at that time. I shared with Vicki my dream, and despite her disclaimer as ‘non-expert’, she signed on to “do what she could” to help a stranger’s Great Scots dream happen.
It took persuading on my part. I was a Scottish Terrier outsider, no credentials within the Scottie establishment, and she was too modest to readily imagine her by-line over a column devoted to Scottie health in a national magazine. “I’m not a veterinarian,” she protested. “I’m no expert. And I’m not a published writer.”
And that self-effacing modesty is why we all came to love her and her writing in GSM through the years. By seeing herself as a “layman” and non-expert she regularly translated technical topics of disease and health into terms all readers could understand. She was not academic. She was gritty and real and honest about her breed-line’s problems and health issues.
But over and above every other virtue I see in Vicki I am most indebted for her courage and loyalty. When the going got rough in 2003 due to my outspoken advocacy on-behalf of our short-lived dogs, calling to account the proprietary failure of the Scottish Terrier Club of America for the genetic plight of the breed (e.g., the genetics series, Deconstructing the Diehard: The Genetic Plight of the Modern Scottish Terrier, 2003-04); when the heat was on and the establishment demonized me and the magazine as incendiary; when others with reputations to lose in the national club distanced themselves from GSM, Vicki stayed on as writer.
I’m not saying Vicki agreed with me. She didn’t endorse fully my arguments with reference to genetic diversity-reducing breeding traditions as nemesis of our breed. I know she did NOT fully agree because we talked about it. But Vicki fiercely endorsed my right to voice my researched convictions, for she believed in intellectual diversity, and therefore chafed at STCA policies that block as heresy anything but their official line.
In a word, she was a Scot. She was a Campbell. And to know anything of the spirit of the Scot, and perhaps the Campbells in particular, is to know theirs is not a get-in-line-herd-instinct, but rather a fierce spirit of independence and self-direction.
I know that is why Vicki embraced the idea of Great Scots Magazine as an independent journal and forum for many different Scottie-lover voices and agendas. I know that’s why she stuck with the magazine for 17 years.
We will miss Vicki’s voice in these magazine pages. I already miss her inspiration for keeping-on despite grave obstacles. But I will not grieve that she is gone. I will count my blessings that my life and these pages were quietly enriched from the beginning of the magazine by a remarkable woman who was not only a friend of the Scottish Terrier, she was one who embodied the courage and independent spirit of the Scottie as few others do.
Aah-rooo, Vicki. Your spirit lives on.
Joseph Harvill, publisher Great Scots Magazine