Why We’re Here: Michael Wayne Campbell

Michael Campbell was deeply grounded in his faith. He had a strong work ethic and worked hard to provide for his wife, Melinda, and three sons, Dylan, Colin, and Cameron, as the sales manager of a local car dealership. But he also loved music and was a part-time musician who, as Melinda says, “had set Kingdom goals for our little family.” He dreamed of having them go back on the road into full-time gospel ministry.

He worked a lot of hours and was active in his church, but did his best to make it to the boys’ ball games and activities. When he did have a day off, he loved to take the family on day trips to nearby historical landmarks. (He was an avid reader and huge history buff.) In fact, the family had just settled down in his hometown of Brownsville, Kentucky, where Michael had hoped he could start slowing his schedule down to make more time for his wife and kids and to help with aging family members. He and Melinda had talked of a slower pace and of spending time on the East Coast where they could enjoy the history and “community feel” of the area. They had been married almost twenty years. Melinda says they had just talked about how they “had hit that super comfortable friendship stage and were looking forward to finishing the life race together.”

On January 11, 2015, Michael was excited to join his best friend for a night in Nashville at an Eric Church concert. When Michael was late coming home, Melinda began to worry. She couldn’t reach him on his cell phone. She began calling several law enforcement agencies looking for any information that might tell her why Michael was delayed, hoping to put her mounting fears to rest. When an officer in Nashville told her that traffic on the interstate was backed-up due to a fatality, she knew something was terribly wrong. A short while later, a local deputy pulled into her driveway to tell her that it was her husband who had been killed.

Michael had been driving his Corvette northbound on Interstate 65 in Nashville near Old Hickory Boulevard when a drunk driver in a Cadillac Escalade driving for several miles on the wrong side of the interstate hit him head-on. Multiple 911 callers had tried to alert police to the dangerous driver, but they were not able to stop her in time. Michael died at the scene and his best friend was seriously injured.

Melinda says she immediately went into a state of shock and doesn’t remember much from that entire first year. One thing she does remember, and will never forget, is the look on her children’s faces in that moment. “Life will never return to ‘normal,'” she says. “The leadership Michael provided to our home cannot be replaced.” She also says that not only have their family and social dynamics changed, but that they were not prepared financially for such a terrible loss and their lifestyle has been greatly modified. “My children and I do not have the same security we did with Michael’s provision.”

When asked what she remembers most about the man she spent two decades loving, Melinda told us, “Michael had a larger than life persona that commanded attention, but he had a sweet introverted nature, too.” She adds, “Michael was a real gift to this world who was taken away too early… The impaired driver spent less than one year in prison for stealing the love of my life, but I will spend the rest of mine trying to advocate against drunk driving in his memory.”