Carmen Campolo: A Legacy That Will Live On

By Jason Klaiber

Managing Editor for Promotions


“From what we get, we can make a living...what we give, however, makes a life.” This is an often-repeated quote, but it doesn’t represent anyone more fully than Carmen Campolo, a man who spent his lifetime giving to society. With an everlasting smile that could light up an entire hallway, he was a beloved staff member throughout his decade-long presence within the Jamesville-DeWitt community. Mr. Campolo passed away on Dec. 4, 2013 at the age of 67 after a hard-fought battle with cancer. His immeasurable legacy as an educator, a friend, a man devoted to his family, and a Vietnam veteran, however, lives on.

After spending several years at J-D Middle School, Mr. Campolo started working as a teaching assistant at J-D High School three years ago. He worked primarily in the J-DHS Testing Center to help students if they were absent or because they needed accommodations for their test. Aside from that, he worked with individual students within the classrooms, helping them develop in their studies.

Fellow teachers in the J-DHS special education department recall Mr. Campolo’s vibrant personality and compassion for others. Teacher’s aide Caroline Fleszar says that Mr. Campolo had an “eagerness to get along with everyone.” She notes that he was always entertaining, polite, and courteous to the people he came in contact with, characteristics that were visible off school grounds as well. For example, Mrs. Fleszar says that Mr. Campolo once drove her home when her car broke down. Additionally, he was known to cover for his coworkers if they were on break and also babysit their children if they were unable to. Teacher’s aide Marcella T. Jones says that Mr. Campolo enjoyed being around other people and invested his time in making everyone else feel comfortable. “The one thing I can remember about him was that regardless of what was happening in his life, he made others feel special,” says Mrs. Jones; “He was very thoughtful and very accommodating.”

Teachers throughout the school also worked with Mr. Campolo. English teacher Matt Phillips says that many students looked to Mr. Campolo as a person to talk to about personal issues, similar to a father or grandfather. “He always exhibited the highest of values and was a very strong role model for the kids,” says Mr. Phillips; “I think in the biggest way, he was just a model of what a classy man of great character should be.” He adds that Mr. Campolo was extremely helpful in the classroom setting. Mr. Phillips says that he helped to facilitate different activities and group discussions, while working one-on-one with students in reading and writing comprehension. Speaking on behalf of his fellow teachers, Mr. Phillips says that Mr. Campolo will be remembered as “someone who did their job very well and helped us become better teachers.” Although, he believes Mr. Campolo’s true legacy pertains to the students. “I think there are young men and women in this school system who worked with Mr. Campolo at the middle school or here at the high school who have seen a model of good character that they’ll carry on through their lives, and they’ll show that model to their own kids,” says Mr. Phillips.

Staff members such as library aide Bill Cotterill and school monitor James Tuck had a personal connection with Mr. Campolo that extended beyond the walls of J-DHS. Mr. Cotterill, who previously worked at Bishop Grimes High School from 1978 to 1996, became aware of the last name “Campolo” because Mr. Campolo’s nephew was a student there. Mr. Cotterill also used to belong to a gym where he met both Mr. Campolo’s godfather and daughter. Since the day Mr. Campolo started working at J-DHS, Mr. Cotterill became close friends with him. They would laugh and joke together. Besides having both been military servicemen in the past, they both parted their hair in the middle, says Mr. Cotterill jokingly. He also commends the selflessness that Mr. Campolo had. “He just brought a lot of warmth and goodness to the community,” says Mr. Cotterill. He added that Mr. Campolo was “courageous” because he always had a smile on his face, even if he was going through troubles such as the illness he was fighting. “He would often say to other people ‘don’t worry about me’ even though he was having a hard time within.” In turn, Mr. Cotterill says his happiness would bring smiles to other people. Mr. Tuck, whose sister’s best friend was Mr. Campolo’s cousin, mentions that he and Mr. Campolo would often converse with each other about family matters. Mr. Tuck also noticed the effect Mr. Campolo had on numerous peoples’ lives. “He touched so many peoples’ lives in such a kind, considerate way,” says Mr. Tuck; “He always said hello, went out of his way to greet people, and made you feel warm. He was a good friend. That’s how I’ll always remember him.”

Throughout the years, J-DHS’s administrative staff also saw the wealth of goodness that Mr. Campolo brought to the school community. “Mr. Campolo was the friendliest, most generous, kindest man I knew and he was a Red Ram through and through,” says Principal Paul Gasparini; “He was really an important part of the J-D community and an essential supporter of all of the J-D students.” Mr. Gasparini also recognized Mr. Campolo as “a family man, a man of faith, and a man of his community.” Assistant Principal David Nylen notes that Mr. Campolo was very charismatic, always upbeat, and was a natural storyteller. Beyond that, he says that Mr. Campolo cared deeply about students and got along well with staff members.

On behalf of all the staff and students of Jamesville-DeWitt High School~ 
Rest In Peace Carmen Campolo [1945-2013]