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Saturday, June 10, 2023

‘You don’t have to be rich to give’ Philanthropist James “Winky’ Camphor Passes Away at Age 94

Recalling James Camphor’s words, “You don’t have to be rich to give,” Mike Brown, Parking Control Aide for Coppin State University shared one of many of his many unforgettable memories of the man affectionately known as “Winky.” 

   “I remember the time I watched Winky write checks out to assist ten students,” said Brown. “No questions asked. Those students would not have graduated without his help. I watched him donate a lot of money to Coppin. He’s also helped me along the way. His legacy speaks for itself.”

   Brown who noted Camphor’s unyielding support of his catering business added, “I had known Mr. Camphor for about 15 years. He gave me advice and was like a father to me. He was a God-loving man. What a wonderful person.”

   The philanthropist passed away on January 7, 2022 at the Summit Park Health and Rehabilitation Center in Catonsville, Maryland. He was 94.

   A public viewing for Mr. Camphor will be held on Friday, February 4, 2022 from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. at Wayland Baptist Church, 3200 Garrison Blvd, in Baltimore. Another public viewing for Mr. Camphor will be held at the Coppin State University Arena from 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, February 5, 2022 followed by services. An Omega Service – Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity will take place at 11:30 a.m. with services following at 12 p.m. Coppin State University is located at 2500 W. North Avenue.

   A 1948 graduate of Frederick Douglass High School, Mr. Camphor began his studies at the former Coppin Teachers College, where he was a standout basketball player. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Coppin in 1951 and a master’s degree from the school in 1957. Camphor’s wife Florine “Peaches” Camphor is also a graduate of Coppin. The couple are fondly known as “Winky and Peaches.” 

   “One of the things we can learn from the Camphors is not only how to be good students, but how to be great alumni once we complete our education at Coppin,” said Dr. Mary Owens-Southall, Dean of Graduate Studies at Coppin State University. “Peaches and Winky modeled that to the hilt. Supporting the place that made the greatest change in you was one of their greatest lessons.”

   Noting that she was “a proud Coppin graduate and proud faculty member,” she added, “I remember walking through the Grace Hill Jacobs building and seeing Mr. Camphor teaching his orientation class. The students would be riveted. He taught them not only how to become a master student, but a master person in life. He modeled for them what a successful, well-rounded person was like. His commitment to the institution was second to none. It was clear in everything he did that he loved Coppin State University.”

   Many people said the Camphors bled the school’s colors blue and gold because of their unwavering support and generosity to the school, which included a $200,00 donation for student scholarships. Mr. Camphor was also a past president of the Coppin State University Alumni Association. A dedicated, Life Member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, he held numerous positions in the organization including president of the Zeta Sigma Chapter.

   “Mr. Camphor and I both attended Wayland Baptist Church,” said attorney N. Scott Phillips, who is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. “We became extremely close after I lost my father. He was like a big brother from a fraternity perspective, but also a confidante and a father figure. In the fraternity, he was extremely well-respected and appreciated. He was a jokester who had a giving spirit. He was the type of guy that the young guys gravitated to. He had so much wisdom. While he was 94-years-old, he was still very young in spirit. Up until his death he maintained his quick wit and sense of humor.”

   Kevin Carr, who is a graduate and employee of Coppin State University, is also a member of  Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity. 

   “Mr. Camphor and Coppin’s Dr. Guilbert Daley were responsible for me becoming a Sigma,” said Carr. “Mr. Camphor gave so much to Coppin and loved the institution.” 

   He added, “We have to keep Mrs. Camphor lifted up in our thoughts and prayers because we know it is devastating to have lost Winky. But he’s gone on to greater things and higher heights.” 

   During his 43-year teaching career, Mr. Camphor served as a principal, and as both a classroom and

demonstration teacher. An avid boxing fan, he enjoyed attending local and national boxing matches. He also enjoyed traveling, and along with Mrs. Camphor, sponsored trips to the Hampton Jazz Festival. Joyce Newsome was among those who regularly attended the legendary excursions. 

   “I would go every year with them,” said Newsome. “I loved it. I also went with Winky and Peaches when they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. We always had such a wonderful time.”

   She added, “Winky truly lived by the code, ‘you don’t have to be rich to give.’ He had a heart of gold.”

   Camphor was Past Chair of the Sickle Cell Anemia board of directors and a Past Member of the AFRAM Board. At the time of his passing, he was planning a 95th birthday party. 

   “Mr. Camphor always had the same demeanor, which was a generous spirit,” said Tara K. Turner, Assistant Vice President for Institutional Advancement for Coppin State University. “From the day I met him, until his last day, he was always willing to help. He was always there. He was looking forward to celebrating his 95th birthday, and I’m told that he said, ‘I’m planning this party whether I’m going to be there or not.”   In addition to his wife, Mr. Camphor is survived by two children Yolanda Camphor and Michael Camphor. In lieu of flowers, the family would like contributions to be made to the Coppin State University Development Foundation:  CSUDF, 2500 W. North Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21216, Memo: Dr. James Camphor Fund. Contributions can also be made by visiting www.coppin.edu/JWCamphorFund

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