Photography
 

John Campion

January 17, 1963

Obituary

John Joseph Campion 

John Joseph Campion, the serial energy technology entrepreneur whose innovations powered everything  from one-night-only concert tour stops to entire cities facing blackout conditions in the wake of natural  disasters, died Friday at a hospital in New York City. He was 57. The cause was acute myeloid leukemia (AML), with which Campion had been diagnosed in 2018. 

The phrase “thankful” and “one-of-a-kind” were purpose-built for Campion. Whether you were an Uber  driver shuffling John to a meeting anywhere around the world, or a young Irish race car driver in need of  sage advice, John treated all people with respect and appreciation for the work they did and the role they  played in life. Indeed, his own life was shaped in a very special way at a very young age, teaching him that  you can’t judge a book by its cover. John’s keen sense of how best to engage with an audience and  contribute in a meaningful way to accomplish a common goal was felt by ambassadors, governors,  mayors, fellow business leaders and heads-of-state seeking his expertise in the energy sector. John was  present for everyone with whom he came in contact, no matter the circumstances, beaming with  optimism and gratitude for all. He never asked anything of anyone he wasn’t prepared to do himself. 

John immigrated to the United States from Cork, Ireland in 1984 with $26 in his pocket. A circuitous route  and a perpetual drive to succeed led him down many paths that only an Irishman with a powerful motor  could carve. 

Upon his arrival in the United States, John quickly found work as a roadie for the world’s biggest rock  bands, culminating in a position as an electrician on Michael Jackson’s 1987-1989 “Bad” World Tour.  During his run with Jackson, he developed a portable power generation unit that would soon be the  cornerstone of the first company he founded, Showpower, Inc. 

Sparked by the success and ultimate sale of Showpower to General Electric, John has served in a number  of leadership positions over the years with companies such as General Electric and Alstom Power Rentals.  In 2004, he acquired the latter company and transformed it to become what is today known as APR  Energy, a global company specializing in the rapid deployment of cost-efficient, reliable electricity.  Campion retired as Executive Chairman of APR Energy in 2019, after being diagnosed with AML, but  continued to serve as its Chairman thereafter. 

John located APR Energy’s global headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida after spending time there in 1989,  serving as a roadie for the Rolling Stones, where, he proclaimed, after spending some down time seeing  Jacksonville’s beaches and neighborhoods, that if he ever had the means and ability, Jacksonville would  be his home. As much as he kept a foot in New York and New Jersey, Jacksonville was home for this world renowned impresario. 

Campion’s success bred a strong philanthropic purpose. Recognizing his roots as a rock and roll roadie, he  became a partner to JABOR (Just a Bunch of Roadies), a global humanitarian group comprised exclusively  of the rock and roll roadies alongside whom he worked for so many years. The group was called into action  to volunteer their time and talents in a post-earthquake-devastated Haiti. John, with them both physically and emotionally, shared heart and soul combined with action and problem solving, offering advice,  providing necessary resources and lifting up those in need, showing how much, he appreciated a person’s contribution to the world, or in the situation at hand. John’s energy poetically lit up every moment in  time like no one else could. Everyone around the world that had the chance to cross paths with his life – for a second or for a lifetime – would never forget the lasting impact he left.

In addition to his philanthropic endeavors and his global entrepreneurial success, Campion was widely  renowned for having curated a rare collection of world championship race cars, which are part of the  Campion Collection. The collection, and John’s passion for sharing it with the world, helped to broaden  the understanding and appeal of lesser-appreciated forms of automotive racing in the United States, such  as rally racing. 

A true entrepreneur with an innovative spirit, John holds various patents, including two for a scalable  portable modular power plant. He also has received numerous awards and recognitions, including the  2016 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the Jacksonville Business Journal’s Ultimate CEO Award and an Honorary  Degree from the University of North Florida. He has also been a featured commentator for national media  outlets such as CNBC, Fox News, CBS News, Forbes, Bloomberg and others. 

John’s greatest love was for his wife and life-partner in every sense of the word, Suzanne Bonnici Campion. Theirs was a love that was truly meant to be. They were married in the Bahamas in 2013, and  later by a priest in a Catholic church “just for them,” as Suzanne likes to say. Their relationship first  blossomed in 1991, and like any great love story, there are twists and turns, but in the end, it is never  ending. John liked to say, “we went our separate ways to build our own businesses, married other people  and had the right kids, and then God brought us back together again when the time was right.” 

In 2014, the Campions founded The John and Suzanne Campion Family Foundation, Inc. a charitable giving  organization focused on health, education and nutrition for the underprivileged. Giving back was not only  a saying for John, it was one of his life’s callings that Suzanne shared with equal passion. 

Through their Foundation, the Campions sponsored children for Christmas at the Sulzbacher Center, an  organization devoted to empowering homeless and at-risk women, children and men through health,  housing and income services thereby restoring hope and self-sufficiency. John and Suzanne also support  the Julia’s Butterfly Foundation, a charitable organization dedicated to improving the lives of terminally  and chronically ill children and their families. Eva’s Village is another non-profit they support, helping to  provide shelter, food, and education for homeless and needy adults and their children. John also served  on the Catholic University Busch School Board of Visitors and on the board of JEA in Jacksonville. 

Since his retirement, John has focused much of his energy to creating CJJ Motorsports Racing, an  automotive racing team he founded in 2019 to provide support to Irish racers, enabling them to compete  on the global stage against the world’s most renowned race teams. The team is an extension of CJJ  Motorsports, the company John founded to manage his automotive endeavors. Individuals and teams  racing under the CJJ Motorsports Racing banner includes James Roe, Jr., Matt Griffin, Nicole Drought,  Craig Breen, Paul Nagel, Sean Doyle, and CJJ 191, an F1 for Schools racing team from St. Brigid’s College  in Loughrea, Ireland. CJJ is the primary sponsor for Formula Female, led by Nicci Daly, and its Go Girls  Karting Initiative, which introduces 1,000 young women to karting in Ireland each year. As part of the  karting initiative, CJJ also sponsored Alyx Coby, a young Irish woman and rising star. John and Suzanne  were also significant patrons of Team Ireland. 

Since first being diagnosed, John and Suzanne liked to say God brought them many angels on earth who  did all that was possible every step of the way. One angel who became very special to Suzanne and John  is oncology nurse Judy Murphy.

Along with Suzanne, John leaves behind a son, Joe Campion and step-daughters, Lilah, Cate & Emma Celentano; his brother Edmund and his family, Paola, nephews Brendan, Ciaran, and Finn; his sisters-in law, Kathy Bonnici, Janet Widmayer and husband Don, their children Emily, AJ, Hannah & Lillie; Suzanne’s  brother James Bonnici & partner Anthony Pizzonia; niece Jennifer Anastasiou & husband Michael and their children Luke, Ella & Jack. John’s parents, Michael and Teresa preceded him in death. 

There will be a funeral mass Friday, Oct 9th at 10:00 am at St. Elizabeth Church, Wyckoff, NJ and luncheon  following. Due to limited capacity at the Church because of COVID-19 restrictions, the service will be  livestreamed here: https://saintelizabeths.org/live-streaming. 

There will be a celebration of Campion’s life at a future date when everyone can be safe from COVID-19  concerns. 

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to the John and Suzanne Campion Scholarship  at the Catholic University's Conway School of Nursing honoring his trusted and caring nurse, Judy Murphy.  Checks can be made payable to The Catholic University of America, include the Campion Scholarship in  the memo line and Judy’s name. Mail gifts to: The Catholic University of America; Office of University  Advancement, Suite E 200 Father O'Connell Hall, 620 Michigan Avenue, Washington, DC 20064. 

And, no obituary for John Campion would be complete without his signature phrase that would end every  meeting, call or conversation: “God Bless!”

 


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