CHATTANOOGA, TENN. — Samuel Henegar Campbell III, the longtime leader of Chattanooga Bakery, Inc., died Oct. 8 at his home on Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga. He was 86.
Born May 3, 1934, in Chattanooga, Mr. Campbell graduated from The Bright School and McCallie School. When Mr. Campbell was 16, his father, Samuel Henegar Campbell Jr., died, and the younger Mr. Campbell became involved in managing Chattanooga Bakery while attending the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business. After graduation, Mr. Campbell served for 16 months in the US Army in Fort Chaffee, Ark. According to family lore, it was Mr. Campbell who assigned a young and world famous recruit named Elvis Presley to serve in Fort Hood, Texas, and the Company A Third Armored Division’s 1st Medium Tank Battalion.
In 1958 Mr. Campbell returned to Chattanooga and led the family business as president until 1991. He continued as chairman until his death.
Chattanooga Bakery was established in 1902 and grew rapidly after the 1917 introduction of the Moon Pie. The third generation of the Campbell family to head the company, Mr. Campbell added new varieties of Moon Pie during his tenure, including the Double-Decker Deluxe and new flavors, including vanilla and banana. More recently, a Mini Moon Pie was introduced.
Sam Campbell IV, the company’s president since 1991, also credited his father with updating systems and formulations. For example, he said a switch to high-fructose corn syrup when cane sugar prices were surging during the 1970s proved crucial for the company’s survival.
“He would look at the corn syrup tanks and say, ‘Those are paying for themselves every 11 days,’” Mr. Campbell said.
Of his own elevation to president in 1991, Sam Campbell IV said, “I was probably too young.” He continued, “Dad said, ‘You know this business well enough. Just don’t make the same mistake twice.’ It was a great legacy for me and my brother (John Campbell, chief operations officer). We’ve had a very collaborative relationship.”
In addition to Sam Campbell IV and John C. Campbell II, Mr. Campbell’s granddaughter Elizabeth C. Griffin is a marketing analyst at Chattanooga Bakery, representing the fifth generation of the Campbell family to join the business.
Beyond his work at Chattanooga Bakery, Samuel Campbell III was involved in numerous business ventures, including Brownie Special Products, which he established together with AJ Brown, a former president of Schulze and Burch Biscuit Co. The company was a supplier of pizza crusts to consumer packaged foods companies and was sold in the early 1990s. Other ventures he stablished or managed were Sportsman’s Dens, Signal Smelting and Refining Co. and Professional Aviation.
Mr. Campbell was active in industry affairs, including the Biscuit and Crackers Manufacturers’ Association, where he was an officer, and the American Bakers Association. He was president of the Southern Cookie Bakers Association and the Tennessee Bakers Association.
In addition to his father, Mr. Campbell was predeceased by his mother, Harriett Babcock Campbell. Survivors include his wife of 63 years, Susan Harley Campbell; children Sam H. Campbell IV (Carol), Elizabeth C. McElroy, and John C. Campbell II (Marion); his grandchildren Elizabeth C. Griffin (Kennedy), Caroline Campbell, Sam H. Campbell V, Philip McElroy, Jay McElroy, Susan M. Williams (Matt), Wells Campbell, Mallie Campbell, Lewis Campbell and Austin Campbell; two great-grandchildren Will and Caroline Griffin; a sister, Harriett “Babbie” Campbell Cameron (Stuart); brothers-in-law Stewart Harley (Debbie) and Fred Harley (Sue); and many nieces and nephews. He also was preceded in death by grandchildren Clare Campbell and Campbell McElroy.
A private family-only graveside service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Hospice of Chattanooga, 4411 Oakwood Dr, Chattanooga, TN. 37416.