809 La Clede Street, Bellmead, TX 76705

Jo Bess Campbell
November 2, 1931 - March 10, 2024

Jo Bess Campbell

Send Flowers Send Flowers

Activist and legal trailblazer, Jo Bess Campbell, a Bellmead native, died at her home on March 10, after a brief illness. Memorial services will be at 1:00, on Friday, March 22, at Bellmead Funeral Home.

Born on November 2, 1931, to Minnie and Aubrey Campbell, Jo was the younger sister of famed Waco sportswriter, Dave Campbell. In 1932 Jo's father died on Christmas Day, and from that time onward, Jo was raised by her mother and older brother on the family homestead in Bellmead. She attended school in the La Vega School District, graduating as salutatorian from La Vega High School in 1948. She then matriculated into Baylor University as a theatre major, to study acting under Paul Baker. Jo often spoke of her beau and former classmate, actor CluGulager, and how exciting it was to work with Academy Award winning actor, Charles Laughton, when he served as Guest Artist at Baylor, shortly after her graduation. One of the roles played by Jo during her time in the theatre program was Laura in The Glass Menagerie.

While attending Baylor, Jo joined her brother Dave, to work as a reporter for the Waco Tribune-Herald. In 1952 she married fellow reporter, Earl Golding, and in October of that year Katrina was born. After her divorce from Earl, Jo married Walter Dombrowski, an Air Force captain stationed at James Connally Air Force Base. As the wife of an Air Force Captain, Jo lived in Georgia, Oregon, and Alaska. Following her divorce from Dombrowski, she joined Camp Fire Girls (CFG) in Waco, before being transferred to the Wichita Falls office. Recruited in 1960 to serve as Executive Director, she moved to El Dorado, Arkansas, to assume the leadership role for that district. During her tenure there, Jo attempted to desegregate the local day camp, which was an unaccepted view in the Segregated South, and led to her and her daughter being harassed and threatened for her efforts. Eventually, out of concern for her daughter's safety, she parted ways with the El Dorado chapter in 1964.

It was then Jo was transferred by CFG to Cleveland, Ohio where she was employed to serve as District Director for the core neighborhoods of Cleveland, and also assume the role of Camp Director for Camp Yakewi, their summer camp outside of Cleveland. In 1968 she was promoted to the position of Executive Director for the Greater Cleveland area. After leaving CFG in 1974, Jo switched careers and began attending Cleveland State University (CSU) Law School. Graduating in December of 1977, she returned to Waco to study for the Bar Exam at Baylor University. Because there had been no utility law courses offered at CSU, her review classes focused on utility law. As a result, this led her to becoming one of the first legal female experts that field.

After Jo passed the Bar in 1978, job relocation took her to Austin, where she was first hired by the Texas Railroad Commission, before transferring to the Texas Attorney General's Office as an Assistant AG in the Energy division, under the leadership of Attorney General, Mark White. In 1985, then Governor White appointed Ms. Campbell to the position of Public Utilities Commissioner for the State of Texas. It was while serving as a commissioner that Jo made a name for herself, advocating for the rate payers, and the many farmers and ranchers whose lands were being crisscrossed by transmission lines. Upon ending her tenure at the PUC, she returned to Waco to start working as a private utility attorney. Soon after that she became General Counsel for South Texas Electric Cooperative, before branching out on her own in 2015, at the age of 83. She continued to practice law until December 2023, this time representing land owners whose properties were being threatened by the construction of transmission lines. As a private attorney, Ms. Campbell never lost a case.

Once she moved back to Bellmead in 1991, Jo threw herself into transforming the house and property of her childhood, and the fields once so overgrown, began to grow into a haven for roses, native trees, and shrubs. The house itself was redesigned and renovated. She loved hosting parties in her outdoor room, and she was especially proud of hosting events in support of President Obama's 2008 campaign. As a lifelong fan of her hometown, Ms. Campbell was active in the civic life of the community, serving on both the Parks Board and Planning and Zoning Commission over the years. When not practicing law or working in her gardens, Jo was a voracious reader, staunch supporter of indigenous rights, and loved traveling, often with her daughter, Katrina.

Jo Bess Campbell was preceded in death by her parents, Aubrey and Minnie Campbell and her beloved older brother, Dave Campbell and his wife, Reba.

She is survived by her daughter Dr. Katrina Macht and her husband, Timothy, her nieces Becky Roche and her husband, David, Julie Carlson and her husband, Alan, great niece and nephews, Derby Carlson, Campbell Roche and his wife, Katie, and their three children, Jackson Roche and his wife, Caroline, and their daughter, and cousins, Tyanne Terrell, her husband, Wes Rapp, and daughters, Emily and Dr. Callie Terrell.

Honorary pallbearers include Dave Campbell, Timothy Macht, Alan Carlson, David Roche, Wes Rapp, Angela Annunziato, Rodolfo DelCastillo, Arturo Hernandez, Joe Portillo, Mohammed Ali, Travis Gibson, and Nathan McKinney.

Because one of Jo's greatest loves was the family homestead, settled in the 1860s, in lieu of flowers, donations maybe made to Bellmead's Memorial Tree and Park Contribution Program, Lions Park, by visiting: bellmeadtx.gov/198/Parks-Recreation.

Memorial Service
Friday, March 22, 2024
1:00 pm
Bellmead Funeral Home Chapel
809 LaClede
Bellmead, TX  76705
Map & Directions


  1. Audie Williams
    Thank you for the opportunity to care for Ms. Campbell. May warm memories sustain you.
    Our thoughts are with you all,
    Audie Williams and the Team of Community Healthcare of Texas/Providence Hospice
  2. Andrés Lemoine
    My family's condolences to my dearest friend Katrina. May the beautiful memories and teachings of your Mom always stay in your heart. Un abrazo fuerte mi querida amiga.
Send Flowers

It's never too late to send flowers.