Daytonian of the Week: Charlie Campbell, a longtime Gem City booster

Charlie Campbell has always been one of Dayton’s biggest cheerleaders.

Our Daytonian of the Week knew Dayton had lots of potential years before it was cool and never hesitated letting people know.

The Gem City’s prophet continues to sing the city’s virtues in his weekly newsletter, It’s Great In Dayton.

Here’s more about the man who’s always seen the bright side of the city:

Please tell folks a little about yourself. What is your background and what are some of the organizations you are involved in with in the community? 

I was a kid living in New England and in 1965 graduated from Denison University. I was in Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) in the U.S. Air Force, served four years with my final year in Vietnam. In 1969 I was discharged and my uncle called and offered me a job in Dayton. I said “yes” because I thought while I was looking for a “real” job, it would be OK being in Dayton. Well, no one ever wanted to hire me, so since 1970 I’ve been right here working at Miami-Jacobs College.

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My mother was from Dayton and the family business was Miami-Jacobs College. My uncle was having me do lots of things: hiring teachers, organizing classes, working in the book store, teaching some classes, and being called by the police at 2 a.m. when someone had broken in the building. I eliminated typewriters and shorthand and introduced computer training and a variety of medical training. In 2003 I sold the business becoming fully retired.

You are a huge booster for Dayton. How did you take on this role? 

Miami-Jacobs was at 400 E. Second St. and in the mid 1990’s, things were starting to develop in the neighborhood. There was talk about the old railroad station becoming a farmer’s market; development was beginning in the old empty buildings on Third Street and Wayne Avenue, and there was talk about a baseball stadium in the old torn down Delco buildings.

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One day I wandered around the businesses in the area and invited them to come for some coffee so we could meet and share what we had heard. There was probably a dozen or so and as we were closing one said “…in a month be at my place,” which we did.

We started meeting monthly and established the Webster Station Business Association. We kept inviting more people and many others wanted to come to our monthly luncheon so we got bigger and bigger. By then we had email so that was the way to communicate. And since I was the organizer they voted me as the chairman. I was busy hyping out all the things that were going on.

When did you start writing the online newsletter, It’s Great in Dayton? 

After "retiring," I wanted to continue to boost things going on. I created the It's Great In Dayton newsletter and an artist created the logo. I email it out on Monday afternoon to 7,000 people and frequently I get some feedback. I like to promote interesting things or events and many of those are "beneath the radar." The web site is

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What are your top 3 favorite things about Dayton?

1. Art … by this I mean all types of art; visual, theater, music, dance … ALL types of art.

2. Sports … here in Dayton we have the Dragons, and college basketball that is superb, and it is so easy to buzz down to Cincy for the Reds and the Bengals or Columbus for pro hockey.

3. Education … from little kids to PhD's there is easy access, lots of choices, excellent colleges and universities including vocational training.

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What’s a typical day for you? 

Having a cup of coffee and reading the DDN online. Then I do some stretching exercises. I always need to be practicing on my accordion (I take a lesson once a week). Then I’m putting together some info for the IGID newsletter, looking at things that are changing in the Miami Valley, throwing away old stuff, working on our yard and deck, and finally, I wander around our neighbors to hear what’s going on in our area.

You play the accordion. What do you enjoy about this instrument? 

This is a totally amazing instrument. Using it is a physical thing because it is heavy and you squeeze it in and out so the air vibrates the reeds to make a sound. With so many reeds, the sounds can make so many different sounds including French or German. Frequently when I’m performing I pass out the lyrics so people can sing along with what I’m playing.

Credit: Chris Stewart

Credit: Chris Stewart

What’s your favorite place to eat/drink and why? 

The Pine Club. I love going there after being at a theater or doing a job with my accordion. When there, I have a sardine sandwich and some red wine. And it is close to my house.

Why do you think Dayton sometimes gets a bad rap and what can we do to combat that? 

Dayton’s bad rap depends on how far in the past you want to go. It seems to have been based on the loss of manufacturing, particularly all the automotive parts and accessories made here. As those (including NCR’s manufacturing) were closed down and the buildings razed there was more and more comments of how bad Dayton was.

Now, I believe that more and more people are realizing how wonderful Dayton is. With the arts, sports, and education mentioned above, the easy access to everything you want to attend or go, with the four weather seasons, with the friendly and supportive people, visitors are always amazed at our area!

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What’s your guilty pleasure?

I have no guilty pleasures … all of my pleasures are a requirement!

 What inspires you about Dayton?

No. 3 The perfect size ... big enough to be a city yet not so big it is impossible to make a change.

No. 2 Green Green Green ... the Five Rivers MetroParks are absolutely unbelievable ... we have so many acres and places, and rivers, and activities, and bikes, and lakes, and a COMMITMENT to the green stuff.

No. 1  Dayton IS the future ... with Wright-Patt, all kind of research, innovation, arts galore, and FRIENDLY and WELCOMING people — this IS the place to be!!!!

 If you could have a super power what would it be and why? 

HP&L ... Happiness, Peace and Love for all!

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