A joint service was set for Monday for long-time Kern County farmers Don Camp, Sr., 94, and his wife Izetta Agnew Camp, 92, who recently died peacefully at home within days of each other surrounded by their family.
The family's third-generation farm, D.M. Camp and Sons, produces and ships numerous crop types, including nuts, vegetables, fruits, grains and fiber, according to its website. The family also owns John Deere dealerships in Kern and Los Angeles counties and in Oregon and Idaho.
“There are a lot of people who do what I do," Don Camp told the Bakersfield Californian in 2004, when he was honored by the California chapter of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers as their Distinguished Agriculturalist of the Year. "We’ve run our farming operation with some awfully good people over the years.”
A World War II fighter pilot and Clemson University graduate whose ambition was to become a cattleman, Camp helped run livestock in the Kern River Valley but soon found out he could better support the “cowboy habit” through cotton and potato farming, the family wrote in an obituary provided to Western Farm Press.
Born July 29, 1925, Camp was one of two children born to cotton pioneer Wofford Benjamin Camp Sr. (W.B.) and Georgia Anna App Camp while his parents were living on the United States Department of Agriculture’s Shafter Cotton Research Experiment Station, according to the family.
Helped Dust Bowl migrants
The family moved often while his father worked for the USDA. When they returned to Kern County his parents enlisted the help of Dust Bowl migrants to construct a home using well-insulated box cars east of Shafter. There as a young boy he learned how to drive a tractor.
"Compassionate and caring, Don often helped Dust Bowl families who arrived with optimism but little else," his family wrote. "He empathized with them, having moved around so much as a child. There was always a steady stream of stranded motorists seeking help at the back door of their ranch house near the highway. Don invited every person in, including a jail escapee."
Camp married Izetta Agnew in 1952, having met her while at college: she attended Furman College in South Carolina, according to the farm's website. The couple was married 67 years and had five children and 13 grandchildren.
Known for being quiet, unassuming and a man of humility, Don Camp was a large presence in the agriculture industry, taking a leadership role on state and national agricultural issues while advocating for local, state, and federal water projects and supporting farmers here in the Central Valley, the family recalls.
Involved with groups
He was involved with numerous agricultural and community organizations, serving for 31 years as president of the Cawelo Water District as well as California Planting Cotton Seed Distributors. He volunteered and donated to Mercy Hospital, Bakersfield Christian High School, Calcot, Cotton Incorporated, the American Cancer Society and First Presbyterian Church. He was a member of Stockdale Country Club, the Bakersfield Rotary Club and served on the boards of Kern View Foundation, the Boy Scouts, Camp Fire Girls, the Quest Club and on the committees of the California Cotton Study and California Polytechnic University-San Luis Obispo School of Agriculture, according to his family.
“Work hard and be good at what you do, but don’t have a big ego and put yourself first above everything,” he said, according to his family.
Don Camp was preceded in death by his parents and brother Wofford Benjamin Camp Jr. He is survived by his sister-in-law Floride Findley, children Georgia Bell, Don Jr. and his wife Debbie, Edwin and his wife Kaye, Clayton and his wife Karrie and Carolyn Pandol and her husband Jack. Survived by 13 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren, and a 14th on the way. The family gives special thanks to Juana Mendoza, Maria Leal, Maria Vasquez, Aida Mendoza, and Ira Ali for their care.
The Nov. 25 funeral service was to be officiated by Rev. Jeff Chandler at 10 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 1705 17th Street in Bakersfield. Interment will be private.