Presbyterian minister Roy Campbell had ‘tremendous impact on others’

Rev Roy Campbell  and his wife Tonya. The cleric's family and congregations were shocked by his sudden death on 5 June, 2017.
Rev Roy Campbell and his wife Tonya. The cleric's family and congregations were shocked by his sudden death on 5 June, 2017.

A small Presbyterian church was packed to over twice capacity yesterday as mourners gathered to pay respects to a young minister who was held in “extraordinary” esteem.

Rev Roy Campbell, 47, died suddenly at home at Clogher, Co Tyrone on Monday, leaving his wife Tonya, son Gershom, 13 and daughter Joanna, 10.

He had served Clogher and Glenhoy Presbyterian churches for 11 years.

The preliminary cause of death is an embolism caused by a blood clot from a broken foot.

Rev Campbell’s funeral took place at his parents’ congregation, Corrick Presbyterian Church, near Newtownstewart in Co Tyrone.

Although the rural church only seats 100, a marquee outside seated a further 150.

Rev George Johnston, who was minister at the church when Rev Campbell was growing up and became a lifelong friend, paid tribute to him. “Roy was a very ordinary individual but he had an extraordinary impact on people around him,” said the cleric, who now ministers at Newtowncrumlin Presbyterian Church near Larne. “He would never have sought the limelight and never boasted about himself.”

The son of a farmer, at 16 Roy Campbell went to Loughry College.

It was here that he seemed to “make sense of everything” Rev Johnston had taught him while he was growing up.

“It was here the Lord brought him into his kingdom,” the minister said.

Roy went on to study at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.

“One of his outstanding qualities was his caring nature,” said Rev Johnston.

He met Tonya in the US. She was seriously injured in a car accident several months after they were married and has been confined to a wheelchair. The experience was “the making” of Roy as a minister, Rev Johnston added.

“I was a chaplain at Causeway Hospital and asked him to stand in for me for a while he was a seminary student. He had a tremendous impact, maybe because he knew how to relate to people, but also because he was such an empathetic individual.”

Rev Johnston added: “The congregations he served in held him in extraordinary esteem.”

He declined calls to larger churches because of this and because of the level of friendship and support several members gave to Tonya.

“Roy’s family were very keen that he would not be described as some wee cleric that fell out of heaven with a clerical collar and a nappy. He never wanted to be known as Rev Campbell, but as ‘Roy’.”

His wife and two children have been left “bereft”.

“But the sadness of his passing was ours - not his. Roy believed that while his body was in the ground, he was already in heaven.”