Obituary: Roberta McQuade Campbell
Devoted grandmother, mother, lived in Claremont more than 50 years
Roberta was born March 2, 1932, in New Bedford, Massachusetts, to Estelle McQuade (nee Krzynowek) and Joseph McQuade. The McQuades moved to Washington, D.C., where they took up residence on Connecticut Avenue.
Young Roberta enrolled in the St. Thomas School in Northwest Washington, where she met Maureen Fletcher (now Lebling) in the eighth grade, who became a lifelong friend. She enjoyed spending summers at the beach in Ocean City, Maryland. After high school, she was selected to represent the state of Massachusetts in the 1950 Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.
She earned her bachelor’s degree from Seton Hill College (now Seton Hill University) in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. There she met lifelong friend Delores Musarra (now Plunkett), who was also in the graduating class of 1954.
After college, she took a job working as the secretary to the dean of George Washington Medical School (now George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences), in Washington, D.C. In August 1956 she married one of the students there, John D. Campbell, II. The best man at their wedding was another medical student, David Van Every. David and his wife Pat became lifelong friends.
When her new husband graduated, the couple moved to Los Angeles, where he pursued his internship and residency. She took a job working for Leo Gelfand, M.D., and in 1962 gave birth to her first son, John. The family then moved to Pebble Beach, California for two years while Dr. Campbell served as a captain in the U.S. Army, working as an obstetrician and gynecologist.
The couple’s second son, Bruce, was born in 1965 at Fort Ord, in Marina, California. The Campbells moved back to Southern California and briefly rented a house on Wheaton Avenue in Claremont before purchasing a home on Queens Court in the Towne Ranch section of Claremont.
The family remodeled the house and traveled to Europe a couple of times, but then the marriage failed and henceforth she raised her boys as a single mother. She maintained her commitment to her boys and put her own life on hold to be a full-time mother.
She enjoyed cooking, reading books and watching movies, and was amazing at recognizing people who had appeared on the silver screen. She listened to music often while at home, where you could find her playing Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, the soundtrack to the Broadway production of Man of La Mancha, Edith Piaf, Neil Diamond and ABBA. Her favorite food was scallops and she claimed to have eaten 10,000 of them. She liked Linguica on pizza and attributed this to her Portuguese friends in New Bedford, Massachusetts. One of her favorite places was the Royal Hawaiian Hotel on the shore in Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii.
She did things that a lot of other people would not have taken on, such as the care and welfare of her grandson, Douglas, from the time he was two years old and she was 64, until he was partway through high school. It was not an easy task at her age and stage of life to live with and raise a young boy. She wanted Douglas to be a good, well cultured and intelligent contributing adult in this world, and provided every service to him, such as private school, tutoring, sports, etc.
She lived in her house for 50 years before dementia precipitated her move to Summer House at Claremont Manor.
Late in the evening on the Fourth of July, 2021, just as the fireworks were concluding, she died quietly. Her family would like to think she went out with a bang.
She was predeceased by her parents Joseph and Estelle McQuade.
She is survived by friends Maureen Lebling and Delores Plunkett; son John and his wife, Hilary, and their children Jack, Kelly and Katie; son Bruce and his son, Douglas.