Father Joe Campbell dies after lengthy illness

Jim Wogan News

Father Joe Campbell, 67, a towering figure both physically and spiritually in the Diocese of Knoxville, died on Thursday, Oct. 20, after a lengthy illness.

“Surrounded by friends, a niece and brother priests, a priest of Jesus Christ, Father Joe Campbell died at approximately 2:20 p.m. at Parkwest Medical Center in Knoxville,” Bishop Richard F. Stika said in a statement. “Those of us present sang the Salve Regina.”


Father Joe Campbell celebrates a boat Mass on Norris Lake in 2013.


John Joseph Campbell was born on Aug. 12, 1949, in Chelyn, W.Va. He was raised in Clearwater, Fla., and fulfilled a desire to become a priest after a career that included retail sales management.

Father Campbell was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Knoxville at St. Mary Church in Johnson City on June 5, 1999.

His first assignment was as associate pastor at St. John Neumann Parish in Farragut in 1999. Father Campbell was appointed pastor of Christ the King Parish in Tazewell and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in LaFollette in 2002. He served both parishes until 2015.

While serving at Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Father Campbell, who stood 6 feet, 8 inches, was best known for living in a floating house on Norris Lake, where he traveled by pontoon boat, and for annually celebrating Mass for boaters on Norris Lake.

View story produced by Deacon Patrick Murphy-Racey about Fr. Joe Campbell’s boat Mass

Father Campbell most recently served as pastor of St. Henry Parish in Rogersville and St. James the Apostle Parish in Sneedville. He was set to retire and live in residence at St. Francis of Assisi in Fairfield Glade before his health began to decline.

The receiving of friends for Father Campbell is Friday, Oct. 28, at St. John Neumann from 5-9 p.m., with a rosary at 7 p.m. Bishop Stika will preside at a funeral Mass on Saturday, Oct. 29, at 11 a.m. at St. John Neumann.  Funeral arrangements are being handled by Bridges Funeral Home, Knoxville.