THE many people who had the privilege of calling Jim Campbell family, a friend and/or a colleague will bid him a heartfelt farewell in Toowoomba this Saturday.
Jim, the well known and highly respected former editor of the Chinchilla News, died suddenly last Tuesday in Cairns, where he'd lived since moving from Chinchilla in 2015.
At age 30, he leaves behind his beloved wife, Ashleigh, parents Robert and Liz, brother Jack and sister Caitlin.
In the two years Jim spent on the Western Downs, living in both Chinchilla and Miles, he became a popular member of the community and a star journalist for the region's newspaper group.
He was a passionate storyteller who loved his news patch. His red beard and wayfarer sunnies were never far from the action.
Although he and I never worked together at the Chinchilla News, I kept in close contact with him after I left, reading his newspapers regularly and catching up with him during my visits home.
Who could forget his profile on local icon Darryl "Boyley” Boyle, or the editorial he wrote in defence of the volunteer firefighter who risked losing his job if he didn't shave his own beard?
But my favourite story, which we'd tell over beers to whoever would listen, was the one about how he and I met.
I was taking newspaper photographs of a rugby game at Bulldog Park when a flame-haired Aussie larrikin swaggered over and started quizzing me about my camera.
That was Jim. He'd strike up conversation with anyone and they'd like him instantly.
Jim was at the footy supporting his mates in the opposing Toowoomba team and we quickly realised we'd actually spoken on the phone before.
He'd started out as a cadet journalist with the Toowoomba Chronicle before working as a media officer at USQ, and I'd received his press releases on a few occasions.
Jim and Ash had just married and moved to Miles. I happened to be attending a charity ball there that night and by coincidence, the newlyweds were attending too.
So there we were, several hours later and still wearing black tie, kicking on until the wee hours in Jim and Ash's new home.
In what would be the first of many passionate discussions we had about newspapers and journalism in general, Jim and I sat there, several beers deep, analysing story angles and placement in a crumpled copy of the Chinchilla News he had lying around. I ended up crashing in his spare bed.
We went from virtual strangers to great mates on day one.
A couple of years later, in another delightful coincidence, Jim and I started working together as reporters for The Cairns Post.
There, his brilliance as a journalist and leader shone even brighter.
Again Jim became the star of the newsroom, progressing from the role of council and politics reporter to news editor in barely 12 months.
Having been born in Cairns, Jim's prized possession was his vintage North Queensland Cowboys jersey.
The 2015 premiership celebration would still be going on now if he didn't happen to be holidaying abroad the night his "Cows” won the grand final.
Colleagues will tell you Jim did his best work in the pages of the newspaper.
Those who knew him socially would say it was on the dancefloor.
Jim would like to think he did his best work at the TAB, but I know that's rubbish because I was often receiving his tips.
As he did wherever he went, Jim formed countless friendships during his time in Cairns, where he and
Ash, his high school sweetheart, had recently bought a house and planned to settle down.
He will be dearly missed by his friends and family, and everyone in the wider Chinchilla community who saw the impact he had during his time at the local paper.
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