Esther Francis Campbell of Southampton died January 2. She was 89.
Ms. Campbell was born to Dr. Carl Bennison Campbell and Emma Frances Shaffer in Puritan Mines, West Virginia, on February 15, 1924. “Estee,” as she preferred to be addressed, was valedictorian of the class of 1940 at Seton Hill Academy in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, graduating at the age of 16. She attended Allegheny College in Meadville, Pennsylvania, for two years before transferring to Penn State University to study journalism. At Penn State, Ms. Campbell met Charles Bishop Scarborough Jr., of Scranton, whom she married in 1943, as he was training to fly B-17 bombers in World War II. They were divorced in 1954. Her second husband was Richard Gilliam Peabody of Kansas City, Missouri.
Ms. Campbell was an accomplished writer and actress, co-founding The Footlight Players in 1950, a theater company in Coshocton, Ohio, where she performed leading roles and wrote the playbills, setting the stage for two significant “firsts” in her professional life. She was Kansas City, Missouri’s first female weathercaster, broadcasting on KCMO-TV, and was the first female critic for Daily Variety in Los Angeles, working with the redoubtable Army Archard. She was a publicist for the movie industry until her retirement in 1991.
She loved words. She was a strict and ruthless grammarian armed with a formidable vocabulary and biting wit. In retirement she began her days by doing The New York Times crossword puzzle in ink in 20 minutes, then venturing out to augment her income playing bridge.
Ms. Campbell’s youngest child, Cynthia Ellen Scarborough, predeceased her, as did her only sibling, Mary Lois Summer. She is survived by two sons, Charles Bishop Scarborough III and Jeffrey Campbell Scarborough; two daughters-in-law, Ellen Ward Scarborough and Alice Hoppe Scarborough; seven grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
A memorial service will be conducted by Reverend Peter Larsen on January 18, at 2 p.m. at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Southampton.
Memorial donations may be made to the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, www.arf.org.