Although little has been written about the “first ladies” of Mannington, these Campbell family women have been instrumental in the growth and success of our company since its inception. Whether working behind the scenes on the home front, making decisions in the board room or representing the company in the community, these women have made -and continue to make- a lasting impact. For example…
Mary Lunt Campbell
Mannington’s very first “first lady” was Mary Lunt Campbell who was born in 1864. She married Mannington founder, John Boston (J.B.) Campbell, and in 1920, they moved to Salem, NJ, where they raised their three children–Neil, Kenneth and Elizabeth. After J.B.’s death in 1934, Mary was named as Mannington’s first female officer and director.
Buffy Campbell remembers her mother-in-law as a “grand dame” who loved to be driven around town in her Packard to visit family. Until late in her life, Mary held a weekly family dinner and, on those evenings, she let her grandchildren “paint” on her old frayed rugs with watercolors to “fill-in” where they were worn. “Mumum” (as Mary was affectionately called) passed away in 1956.
Ada King Campbell
Born in 1895, Ada King Campbell was born and she was a bit of a trailblazer. Ada attended four years of college (which was unusual in those days) and was a working mom to Jean, Mary and and John B. Campbell II. She also played a role in key decisions about Mannington’s expansion and capital improvements. It was Ada, who along with her husband Kenneth, agreed to fund one million dollars in capital improvements for 12-foot rotogravure equipment that helped propel Mannington to a new level of success.
Ada was also what we now call a “day trader.” She actively worked with her broker earning extra funds to underwrite for her love of travel and shopping. Ada was also a grand entertainer and hosted many business dinners (in support of her husband’s sales role). She’s remembered fondly for her elaborate dinners with frozen ice cream cakes and eclairs. Johnny Campbell, when seeing his welcome home dinner after serving in the military during the Pacific War, was quoted as saying, “From foxholes to finger bowls!” Ada was involved in the community, too. She sat on the board of the Salem County Girl Scouts and the Salem Hospital Auxiliary. “Nana” loved to take her granddaughters shopping to buy everyone matching outfits (so they had the same hand-me downs for years) and to orchestra performances in Philadelphia. In 1967, Ada died shortly after her and Kenneth’s 50th wedding anniversary.
John Boston Campbell II met his future wife, Ann (Buffy) Campbell when they were both in college (he at Dartmouth, she at Wellesley). A trip to Marine boot camp in South Carolina interrupted Johnny’s education but not their romance. They married in 1944 and, like many couples of that era, military service was a part of their early years together. After graduating from Wellesley, Buffy joined the WAVES and was sent to Smith College for Officers Training School and then to Washington D.C. to serve. Johnny enrolled in the Advanced Officers and Artillery School, was assigned to the 4th Marine Division and participated in the invasion of Iwo Jima. After the military, in 1946 Johnny was discharged from active duty and as he left his ship, he was rewarded with a big hug and kiss from his retired WAVE. That same year, Johnny was appointed president at Mannington and he and Buffy began their post-war era life. The couple raised four children (Carolyn, Joan, Laura and Keith.)
Buffy often hosted Mannington customers at their home since there were no hotels nearby. She was also very devoted to her children and very involved in education, which was her passion. During her tenure with the local board of education, Buffy helped built an integrated school, replacing nine separate segregated schoolhouses around the township. Buffy celebrates her 95th birthday this year.
Carolyn Campbell Brown
Carolyn Campbell Brown (Johnny’s daughter) has been charged with a task that’s vitally important to the future of Mannington–helping maintain our distinct culture and legacy as we continue to grow. As the head of the Campbell Family Council, Carolyn works to educate Campbell family members on all elements of the business and solicit their views on developments within the company.
“Soon we’ll be going into the sixth generation of family members with over 100 people who have been, are or will be owners of this company,” says Carolyn. “They’re spread out all over the world, and many of them don’t have the personal connection with Mannington that their parents or grandparents did. To preserve the value being a private, family-owned company, we need to keep the family steady and cohesive in its thinking. Our Family Council is how we communicate Mannington business to the family and form a unified body of family owners.”
These exceptional “first ladies” have dedicated their lives to their families and to the support and growth of Mannington. Their legacy is a woven into Mannington’s core values and their contributions continue to be part of our company’s success.