Call it fate. Destiny, maybe. Or just a lucky accident. Random chance seemed to have brought Bob and Joyce together.
“I had two tickets to the Kenny Rogers concert in Houston that year,” Bob Campbell recalls. “I was stood up by someone else, so a friend of mine set me up on another date. And that’s how I met Joyce.”
Bob and Joyce went to the concert, and had second-row seating for their blind date, right behind Rogers’ mother. “Kenny’s mother turned around to tell us all about his growing up in the Houston area.”
But it wasn’t the celebrity encounter with Kenny Rogers’ mother that meant the most to Bob that night. He was captivated by Joyce, and she with him.
Bob and Joyce married. “I can’t tell you how much I loved my wife,” says Bob, thinking back to the Kenny Rogers concert. “We were inseparable from that moment on.”
Today, at 82 years of age, Bob is enjoying his second career as a customer service agent at SYKES Boise. “I love the focus here, of helping other people, with whatever problems they’re having when they call in. It’s the best company I’ve ever worked for, the best.”
Bob has ample experience to draw from in making that declaration. He worked for 18 years for a major oil company in his native Houston, before taking several sales jobs in various electronics companies. He then started his own computer business with his eldest son.
But it was a stint in the Navy during the Korean War – and a chance meeting with a yeoman – that got Bob’s career started.
“I went in when I was 17, and I served in several different duty stations, including on board the USS Fletcher. And I went in with the idea of becoming a plumber, so when I got out I could join my cousin in his plumbing business.
“Well, after being at sea for a very short time, down in the hold, the engine room and the bilges, boy, it was extremely rough, pumping the bilges and getting out just soaking wet with sweat and everything.” Bob was working in the belly of the ship where four boilers burned oil at 850 degrees each to power the two-ton steel destroyer. “I didn’t care for it.”
One day Bob climbed up from the dark, diesel-fumed depths of the ship for fresh air topside. Walking drenched in sweat and squinting in the sunlight, he nearly walked over a yeoman. “He saw my name on my uniform and said, ‘Say, I notice that in your service record that you type.’
Bob was a bit sheepish. “Well…” he hesitated. “I said I did type a little, and I had taken typing in high school. But I just did that to meet girls.”
Hearing the truth, the yeoman laughed. Then he asked Bob if he wanted a personnel job in the ship’s office. “I thought it over,” Bob says. “And after about 10 milliseconds I said ‘yes!’”
Bob’s personnel career in the Navy took him to post WWII Japan and California before returning him to Texas, where he started college and ended up with a degree in mathematics in 1965.
He worked for a time in New York City. “I spent six months in the Time and Life building, in the Radio City area. It was a wonderful experience.” One of his favorite memories is attending the 1964 World’s Fair.
When Bob and Joyce finally decided to retire, they settled on Boise, lured by the area’s winter attractions. Bob and Joyce loved to ski together, ever since their honeymoon at Breckenridge, Colorado in 1982. Idaho’s slopes beckoned.
After they settled in Boise, Joyce decided she wanted to work, and she found a job at a call center. She talked Bob into joining her. The call center ended up shutting down less than a year later. And then SYKES came to town.
Both Bob and Joyce intended to apply. And then Joyce was diagnosed with cancer.
“She was diagnosed in July of 2014, and started chemotherapy and radiation. For a while it looked like we were going to make it. But it started spreading, and then it was…” Bob trails off, his words swallowed up by a sea of memories. “It was really just too much.”
In the meantime, Bob started working at SYKES. His son dropped out of the University of Texas and moved to Boise to help care for Joyce. Bob spent as much time with her as he could.
On December 5, 2015, after more than thirty-three years of being “inseparable,” since they watched Kenny Rogers sing together, Joyce passed away.
“My world was collapsing on me. It seemed my life had also stopped,” Bob says.
Although Bob had just started working at SYKES when his wife became ill, he was moved by the amount of support he received. “There were just so many people reaching out to support me and my wife, when she was sick, and then in her passing. I was overwhelmed.”
Bob had his own health scare in the summer of 2016 which led to heart surgery. He is recovering and plans to return to SYKES as soon as he is able.
In the meantime, Bob is happy to share his story. “I want to let people know how genuine I am about how I feel about SYKES, how I’ve been treated at SYKES, and helped and supported. I love it there. I’m going to keep going back as long as I can.”