Colleagues knew Harvey Campbell as a cotton breeder and agricultural consultant who possessed the sort of acumen and personal skills that could turn scientific advances into business opportunities. But it was his successful campaign to break up a monopoly on the variety of cotton grown in the valley that is perhaps the most enduring legacy left by Campbell, who died Jan. 21 of congestive heart disease at 87.
Jim Olvey, a cotton breeder in Arizona who met Campbell some 25 years ago, credited his friend with bringing an end in 1998 to the valley’s restrictive cotton laws, which had been in place since 1925.
“It was a monopoly,” Olvey said of the political structure that governed variety selection, “and it was basically Harvey’s efforts that opened up the entire valley to other cotton varieties.”
Campbell was also a wine connoisseur, who founded a tasting group nearly a quarter century ago. He was one of the top collectors around the globe of two world-class Phelps wines, Insignia, a super-premium Bordeaux-style red blend, and a single-vineyard Phelps cabernet sauvignon from the Backus Vineyard.
“I want to grow up to be just like Harvey,” said Brad Barbeau, a local real estate developer and longtime friend who shared membership with Campbell in two local wine groups.