Chat Room: Deborah Campbell

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By Lance Coleman

Name: Deborah Campbell
Age: 44
Occupation: Hostess at Aubrey’s Restaurant.
Married to Vounlee "Rusty" Campbell Jr.; children: a son, Juaquinn "Quinn" Welch, 26, Rieanna "Ree-Ree" Campbell, 16, and Roma Campbell, 13.

What was your first paying job?
"I was working for the summer youth program at the Blount County Jail at the court house. I was in a secretarial position, typing up blotters."

If you were stranded on an island, what one thing would you take?
"My Bible. That’s my sanity. I’ve been through a lot of stuff with the death of my father, my son was almost killed three years ago and wasn’t expected to live, and, when he came out of a coma, he wasn’t supposed to be able to walk. John 3:16 -- that is my favorite scripture."

If you could do one impulsive thing, unrestricted by cost, what would it be?
"I’d like to see the Love Kitchen in Knoxville come to Blount County. Unrestricted by cost, I’d like to be able to feed and clothe the people around here who really, truly need it."

What task or activity have you still not gotten around to doing?
"I would like to cut a CD of gospel music that my husband I sing."

What are you guilty of?
"Our praline cheesecake."

What is one thing you have always wanted to do but haven’t?
"Pay off all my bills. I feel like everybody can relate to that."

What is your favorite material possession?
"My house, because without the grace and mercy of the Lord sending Habitat for Humanity to me, there was no other way my husband and I could see ourselves affording our home. Kay Bowers, former director of Habitat for Humanity, sacrificed time to help us earn credit to getting our house built."

Who has been the most influential person in the 20th century?
"Martin Luther King Jr. He meant equality for all people, all races, all ethnic backgrounds and all religions."

What was your most embarrassing moment?
"My most embarrassing moment was when I worked at Rubbermaid about two years ago. The machinery blew up, and we had a big oil spill, and I was attempting to get out of my work station slowly. I slipped and fell, and as soon as I hit the ground, my wig flew up in the air. I said, ‘Save the wig.’ It was my favorite wig."

Why did you pursue the career you chose?
"The reason I like coming back here is the people. We’re like family. We fuss and argue, but if anyone is sick or has a loved one lost, we pull together as a family. People who come in that door, you never know how they’re feeling. You might be the difference-maker for them by being kind and courteous."

What is one word others often use to describe you and why?
"They say I laugh loud."

When you were 5 years old, what did you want to be when you grew up?
"A singer. I love singing. It is my passion."

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
"My kids tell me I don’t listen very well."

With whom, living or dead, would you most like to have a long lunch?
"My father. He was a wonderful person, very giving, deeply religions. He was hardcore for education and hardcore for morals and moral standards. I just didn’t listen when I got to the hard-headed, teenage years. I miss him."

What do you hate?
"Bigotry and lying."

What do you do to relax or for fun?
"I cook out. I like to cook ribs, shrimp, chicken and pork chops. I cook salmon on a grill, corn on the grill. It relaxes me. If I’m off on Saturday, I enjoy seeing people enjoy food."

What is your dream vacation?
"I’d like to go on another cruise, but I’d like to cruise to Hawaii."

Rebels, Tornadoes, Mountaineers or Governors?
"I’m an Alcoa alum, My husband is a Heritage alum. My son is an Maryville alum, and my kids go to William Blount. I have to root for all Blount County."

If you could go back in time for a week, what time period or year would you visit?
"If I was to go back in time, it would be the week I made a mistake when I was involved with a young man and had a baby out of wedlock as a teenager. My life became very difficult as a parent. The reason I’m saying this is my concern about teenage pregnancy. Teens have their whole live ahead of them. Things are very difficult when you’re a teenage mother. You’re really financially and mentally not ready. I was lucky my father helped raise my son. My head is held up high because everyone makes mistakes, and mine happens to be this one. I have a fine son who is married with a wife and two beautiful children, and he’s in the U.S. Air Force, and God is using him. He made something out of himself because I gave him to the Lord."

What is the best present you ever received?
"My husband. We’ve had our ups and down like any other married couple. He said to me one day he wouldn’t take anything for me, and I said I wouldn’t take anything for you and he said who in the world would have us. We’re like two old shoes."

What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?
"Work hard and be the best at it, no matter what it is."

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