Dr. Donald Ross Campbell, Psychiatrist

Recipient of the Henry V. Langford Lifetime Service Award
March 25, 2011
Richmond, Virginia

Ross Campbell and Henry LangfordDr. D. Ross Campbell is an adult, adolescent and child psychiatrist and a noted author and lecturer on parent-child relationships. He was the founder of the Southeastern Counseling Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and served as its director until retiring in 1996.  He also served as an Associate Clinical Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Psychiatry at the University Of Tennessee College Of Medicine.

Dr. Campbell earned a B. S. degree from the United States Naval Academy and served four years in the Navy including service as First Officer on a destroyer that was sent out to meet the Soviet ship bringing nuclear missiles to Cuba during the early 1960’s.  The destroyer had been taken out of “mothballs” and was commanded by a Navy Reserve Captain who had had no combat experience.  When the Russian ship refused to identify itself and responded with vulgarities when the communications officer inquired as to what cargo they were carrying, the Captain ordered Ross to have the crew, all of whom were Navy Reservists except Ross and one other officer, to prepare to fire on the ship.  When Ross protested that they had not been authorized by the President to open fire, the Captain threatened to have him court marshaled.  The Captain had “gone ballistic” (as described by Ross) when the Russian Captain had ordered his crew to dump their garbage, sewage, and oil waste off the stern and the U.S. destroyer took on much of it.  Ross, the young sailor, grew up fast, when as a twenty-four year old husband and father, he was about to have to give the order to start World War III.  The Russian Captain saw what was about to happen and showed better judgment and began to turn the huge, very modern, battleship around.

Ross became a Christian as a first year student at the Naval Academy and sensed that God wanted him to be involved in some type of ministry.  Though he held an engineering degree from the Naval Academy, following his military tour of duty, and thinking in terms of medical missions, he applied to 13 medical schools even though he had taken no college biology courses.  He was accepted and enrolled at the University of Florida Medical School from which he received his medical degree.  He performed an internship at Charlotte Memorial Hospital in North Carolina, and following the internship, Ross directed a mission hospital in Bolivia for one year on the base of Wycliffe Bible Translators.  It was during this experience that his interest began to shift to psychiatry.  He returned to the University of Florida and served his psychiatry residency at the University’s Shands Medical Center in Gainesville. He followed this residency with a residency in adolescent and child psychiatry.

A prolific writer, Dr. Campbell’s first book, How to Really Love Your Child, published in 1977, has sold over two million copies and has been translated in over 40 languages.  Revised and updated in 2004, it continues to be an internationally acclaimed bestseller.  His book, How to Really Love Your Teenager, received the Gold Medallion Award.  Other books written by Dr. Campbell include Kids Who Follow, Kids Who Don’t; How to Keep Going When the Storms Keep Coming; Your Kids and Drugs; Getting a Clue in a Clueless World and Kids in Danger. His book, Five Love Languages of Children, with co-author Gary Chapman, was published in 1997.  The Northfield Publishers, a division of Moody Press, released Parenting Your Adult Children and Relational Parenting, Raising Good Kids in a Troubled World. How to Really Love Your Angry Child was published by Cook Communications. Additional books include How to Really Parent Your Child, How to Really Parent Your Teen, and Helping Your Twenty-Something Get a Life and Get it Now, all released by Thomas Nelson Publishers. How to Really Love Your Grandchild was published by Thomas Nelson Publishers in 2008, and Helping Your Adult Child, co-authored by Gary Chapman, was released just a couple of weeks ago.  Many of these books have been translated and published in other countries throughout the world.

In addition to his writing, Ross has lectured on parenting throughout the United States and in a number of European countries. He is currently a seminar leader and board member of Ministering to Ministers Foundation. Ross has felt God’s leadership in guiding his life and profession.  He took early retirement, in part, in order to spend more time writing and working with ministers and their families.  He views his pilgrimage, training, and experiences in the first two-thirds of his career as preparation for the past 15 years that he has devoted to working with clergy families, including giving 55 weeks serving as a clinician in MTM’s Healthy Transitions Wellness Retreats for Ministers and Spouses. He has given countless hours in follow up counseling and in coaching those who were participants in the retreats, as well as with scores of ministers/spouses who were beneficiaries of some aspect of the MTM ministry other than the Wellness Retreats.  Ross has also addressed numerous ministers groups and provided leadership to denominational leaders and church leadership groups.

Dr. Campbell has been a major architect in helping mold the MTM ministry and develop the retreat model into the quality and depth for which it has become known.  He has been an inspiration to the leaders and participants in the 98 Wellness Retreats held in 11 states which have included 968 participants from 34 states plus Canada and the Bahamas and representing 38 denominational affiliations directly and indirectly.  He has been a major factor in helping MTM touch the lives of approximately 10,000 ministers/spouses since MTM’s inception in 1994.

It is not unusual for someone at a Wellness Retreat to say upon meeting Ross, “You do not know me, but you helped us raise our children; your books were our ‘Bible’ for child rearing.”  The “trickle down” effect of Ross’ life, career, writing and ministry can been seen in the following experience that I persuaded Ross to put in written form:

I fought the Soviet Union on the high seas for four years.  At that time they had a far larger Navy than we did and their behavior on the high seas was unscrupulously ruthless.

Little did I know that years later what transpired between the Soviet Union and me would be totally different.  In 1986, tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States were at their greatest.  In an attempt to calm these tensions, the Soviet Union sponsored the Moscow Book Fair.  My book, How to Really Love Your Child, and its publisher were invited to the fair where the book was on display.  Through the door entered an enormous muscular woman dressed in an elaborate Soviet Union uniform. She was the head of all the Soviet Union Social Services.

She noticed my book on display, took it to a nearby table and read it from cover to cover (the book was printed in Russian).  It took her two or three hours to read the book.  When she was finished, she went up to the president of the company that published my book and said, “My people need this book and we would like to buy it.”  The president replied, “I’m so glad that you enjoyed the book but I hope that you noticed that it is a Christian book.”   To this the Soviet officer replied, “Of course.”  The president then carefully commented that the book could not be divided and had to be used in toto.  The woman then explained that she would leave it just as it is.  She also exclaimed that she wanted a copy of this book in every Soviet household.

When I was told of these happenings, I was quite skeptical after my experiences with the Soviet Navy on the high seas.  I did not think much about this episode until late one evening twenty-three years later in Chattanooga.   I heard a knocking at my door.  At such a late hour, I was startled to see a strikingly beautiful twenty-year old woman waiting there.  I greeted her trying not to startle her and she said, “I am Anna Romanov from Russia and I am looking for Ross Campbell”.  I answered “I’m Ross Campbell.”  Anna responded, “I’ve been looking for you for some time.  Almost all of my acquaintances in Russia asked me to find you.”  I said, “Why”?  She then replied, “The Soviet government and the Russian government have kept parents supplied with your books and most of us are now Christians.  I am a student at Southern College in Collegedale” (near Chattanooga).

Everything Anna said left me in shock, especially when I realized that the Soviet woman who was in charge of Social Services had actually told the truth.  The thought that came powerfully to my mind was “Indeed, God works in mysterious ways.”

In 1997, the governor of Tennessee appointed Dr. Campbell to the Board of Trustees of Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute.

Dr. Campbell is a licensed pilot. He has often used his twin engine, Baron 58, to provide his transportation to and from Wellness Retreats and MTM board meetings at his own expense. His numerous interests include hiking, traveling, and reading. Born and raised in New Mexico, his love of the outdoors and of the West keep him in touch with environmental issues.

Dr. Campbell has four adult children and seven grandchildren. Pat, his wife and soul-mate of 49 years, died in 2005 following a long battle with cancer. He resides in Signal Mountain, Tennessee.

Compiled by Charles H. Chandler, Executive Director, MTM Foundation, Inc.

Dr. Ross Campbell fell to his death while hiking in the mountains of East Tennessee, about an hour from his home, on Friday, November 2, 2012. His untimely death was a deep loss to his family, friends, and especially to the mission and ministry of the MTM Foundation. He was so identified with reaching out to wounded ministers, that expressions of sympathy were sent in the form of contributions to the MTM Foundation.