Richard Campbell

Richard Campbell, who coached at Hunters Lane, Stratford, Maplewood and Overton over his career, died on Saturday. He was 57.

Arcentae Broome and his friends grew up in an East Nashville neighborhood that stretched from Litton Middle School to Shelby Park.

Within that parameter, the former Stratford High School football teammates could expect their coach to walk up at any time, just to make sure everything was going OK. Sometimes he’d have players in his car, taking them home if they needed a ride.

That was Richard Campbell’s way.

Campbell, the gritty but kind-hearted former Metro Nashville Public Schools football coach whose most recent coaching stint was at Hunters Lane in the mid-2000s, died from heart complications Saturday, Sept. 4. He was 57.

Social media filled up with memories and well wishes for his family during the holiday weekend. Services took place at 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 9 in the Chapel of Phillips-Robinson Funeral Home.

Broome, now head coach at Overton, played for Campbell and coached alongside him briefly after college.

“A lot of guys will tell you: Coach was tough, man. But he cared,” Broome said. “In this profession, sometimes high school teachers, when 2 o’clock comes they pack up and their day stops. As a coach it doesn’t stop. And his days never stopped.

“He understood you’re not just the coach from 2:45 until practice is over at 5:30. You’re a coach when a kid has nothing to eat or a kid can’t get home because his mama has to work. (Campbell) would make sure you were straight and get where you needed to be.”

Campbell graduated from Stratford and got his Metro coaching start at Maplewood in the mid-1990s. He coached Stratford in the early 2000s before building a 49-30 record with six playoff appearances in seven seasons at Hunters Lane.

He was serious about players staying on track academically, going out of his way to appoint at least one assistant as team academic adviser.

Campbell won the Warren Dunn Coach of the Year Award in 2007, the same year Hunters Lane defensive lineman Marquez Cantrell won the Hume Award. Both honors factor in academic performance and leadership.

Campbell played a role in bringing former Stratford rushing great Joe Campbell back to the school so it could retire his jersey in 2003. Joe Campbell starred for the Spartans from 1985-87 before attaining All-America status at MTSU, where he set the current rushing record. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams.

The two men later coached together at Stratford and Hunters Lane.

“I think his grizzly bear persona was there to hide a teddy bear. I remember a kid’s mom called him one time, her kid didn’t come home,” Joe Campbell said. “Me and him went looking for the kid at 10 o’clock at night, riding through the projects looking for him.

“He was a Stratford historian. He loved Stratford. He would always tell people we were twin brothers, but that he was just a little heavier than I was. Just an all-around great, genuine guy.”

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