Wednesday, May 12, 2010

FAMU Alumna Writes Book about One of Tallahassee's Multimillionaires in the 1900s

For more than 30 years, Florida A&M University (FAMU) alumna Laura McLoud Bell was inspired by her grandfather's story and fought passionately to preserve his legacy.

Her grandfather, the late Dr. Alpha Omega Campbell, was one of the few multi-millionaires in Tallahassee in the early 1900s.

McLoud Bell honored her grandfather in her book, “A Good and Kindly Heart: The Amazing Life of Dr. Alpha Omega Campbell.”

“He was a man gifted with keen intellect and vision ahead of his time,” said McLoud Bell, who co-wrote the book with her sister, Gaile McLoud Wiggins. “As a physician he treated his patients with skill and kindness. His value was that everyone deserved good healthcare. As a man of color, he faced the challenges of living in a segregated world with courage, determination and unwavering faith.”

Campbell, who was educated in Boston, returned to Tallahassee in 1914 and established his practice. His wife, Maggie Lou, was half white. Her father was one of the richest white men in Tallahassee.

With the help from Maggie Lou’s wealth, Campbell was able to become a multi-millionaire in the early 1900s. He opened the first privately owned black hospital in Tallahassee — The Laura Bell Memorial Hospital in 1946.

Campbell acquired quantities of land around the Leon County fairgrounds and named streets after his daughters and granddaughters.

His dynasty ended in the summer of 1955 when he was convicted of manslaughter in the death of a white woman for performing an illegal abortion. He was sent to prison for four years. During and after his release from prison, he fought for the reinstatement of his medical license. His license was reinstated in 1971. He died six years later.

This book is comprised of stories and memories of former patients and employees, along with neighbors who served as the underpinning of the book’s core.

“We are grateful that my grandfather’s full measure of contributions have survived in the hearts and minds of those who believed in him,” said McLoud Bell.

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