Gib Campion; Marketing Director Enjoyed Computers, Cars, Sinatra

Gib Campion, 48, is suspected of drowning after an accident at Great Falls Park, a favorite spot since childhood.
Gib Campion, 48, is suspected of drowning after an accident at Great Falls Park, a favorite spot since childhood. (Family Photo)
By Joe Holley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 28, 2007

On a cold day in January, 48-year-old Gib Campion of Wheaton went for a walk at Great Falls Park, a place he had loved since he was a child, and never came home. Friends, family members and rescue personnel using bloodhounds searched for him day after day until the Potomac River froze over. The uncertainty was agonizing, his wife said.

In late February, his body was found near the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and was positively identified March 2. Authorities surmised that Mr. Campion, a diabetic, accidentally fell into the river at Great Falls and drowned.

Gilbert Thomas Campion was born in Cheverly and grew up in Riverdale. When he was a youngster in the 1960s, his father welded together hood covers from a couple of old Chevrolets, added seats and thus fashioned a sturdy, unsinkable canoe for navigating the Potomac below Great Falls.

On numerous occasions, Mr. Campion, his six siblings and their parents, along with the family dog, Blackie, and cat, Biggie, tramped along the C&O Canal and made their way through the woods to the river, where they paddled to an island, set up camp and spent the night.

Mr. Campion graduated from DeMatha Catholic High School in 1976 and attended Catholic University for a year but had too many interests to stay in school. He worked briefly in construction and as a courier before becoming involved with computers; he remained a computer geek his whole life.

He sold paintings for Art Boom, a business affiliated with Costco, and in the 1990s, worked in marketing for the National Association of Pastoral Musicians. He also worked as a computer help desk technician for the District government and often had ideas for starting businesses.

At the time of his death, Mr. Campion was the promotion and marketing director for the National Mortgage Store in Columbia. He was just getting started in real estate and was planning to become a loan officer and real estate agent.

Mr. Campion, who had a great sense of humor, loved antique cars and vintage music, particularly that of Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and the 1940s.

He had a 1969 Mustang in his garage, but his dream would have been to tool around town in a 1957 Cadillac Biarritz with Sinatra's "My Way" blaring from the radio.

Survivors include his wife of 13 years, Elaine Campion of Wheaton; his father, Harold Thomas Campion of Chincoteague, Va.; three brothers, Donald Campion of Baltimore, Michael Campion of Beltsville and Raymond Campion of Hyattsville; and two sisters, Patty Mezzack of Hyattsville and Kathy Campion Milmoe of Pasadena.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company