So it seems only fitting, the Sikeston resident will be the only female among four males as they receive Distinguished Service Awards from Southeast Missouri State University on Saturday.
The Distinguished Service Awards, which are being given for the fourth time, are presented to individuals who have made lasting contributions to their communities and to the University, said Jane Stacy, director of alumni services and development at Southeast.
"I've known Harryette Campbell for many years, and she has always shown an interest in the work of Southeast Missouri State University," Stacy said. "Her heart is in anthropology and helping the students of the area."
Campbell has been extremely responsive to the Sikeston Area Higher Education Center's work and recently endowed a scholarship there, Stacy noted.
"Although Harryette is not an alumna of Southeast Missouri Sate University, she has certainly been one of our strongest supporters in the area," Stacy said.
Campbell has lived in Southeast Missouri all of her life, growing up on a farm near Lilbourn. Following graduation from the University of Missouri, Campbell returned to the area and made her home in Sikeston.
For years Campbell and her brother were partners in a cotton gin in Bell City. Campbell kept books for the business until she retired.
When her brother died about 15 years later in 1992, Campbell returned to the family business and took on more responsibilities.
Today the 79-year-old Campbell is responsible for managing several thousand acres of land for her family. Campbell said she mostly deals with government programs, selling crops and managing seven sets of books.
"My dad always said farming was a man's world," Campbell said. "I think he would be proud of me."
When Campbell attended college, the basic career options were being a nurse, teacher, secretary or journalist, she recalled.
"Today it's unlimited," Campbell said. "I think college is a vital necessity today."
That's also the message Campbell said she preaches to her nieces and nephews -- "Go to college."
Campbell said she is honored to receive the award, but thinks it's Southeast that deserves credit.
"I've seen what Southeast Missouri State has done for this area," Campbell said. "The branches, like SAHEC, have made it possible for people -- people who may not otherwise have gone -- to go to college."
Had SAHEC been available years ago, more kids in Campbell's family would have gone to college, she predicted.
"Ninety percent of school teachers who had an influence on me were trained and got their degrees at Southeast Missouri State. So although I didn't attend Southeast, I benefit from Southeast greatly," Campbell said.
An archeological hobbyist, Campbell added she thought it was wonderful when Southeast acquired an anthropology department.
In addition to Campbell, Ron Aarns of St. Louis, director of integration, analysis and business excellence at the Boening Company; R. David Crader of Perryville, president, chief executive officer and chairman of Bank of Missouri; Douglas Greene of Vancouver, Wash., entrepreneur and chairman of Skytech Enterprises Inc.; and Terry Riley of Kansas City, councilman for the 5th District of Kansas City, will receive the Distinguished Service Awards.
"The fact that she has farms all over the area and keeps all the bookwork herself makes her tremendous," Stacy said. "To live in a man's world all these years and do the decision-making for a business that is primarily thought of as a man's world, is remarkable."
Awards will be given at an all-alumni breakfast to be held at 7:30 a.m. Saturday in the Student Recreation Center South Campus, formerly the Activities Center of the former First Baptist Church property, 926 Broadway. Breakfast tickets are $9 per person. To purchase a ticket, call (573) 651