About two months after the Silver Dollar Hofbrau closed for the last time, one of its colorful and charismatic owners, Truman Campbell, died peacefully in his sleep March 14.
The Fresno bar and restaurant on Shaw Avenue near Fashion Fair mall was open for more than 35 years.
On Saturday, Mr. Campbell’s daughter, Laurie Anhorn, fondly recalled her father sitting happily in the Silver Dollar on his favorite holiday, St. Patrick’s Day, like the “lord of the pub.”
The lifelong Fresno resident, and one-time leader of the state Republican party, played his clarinet with the band at the Silver Dollar for the last time on Jan. 20. The 86-year-old told The Bee he was “brokenhearted.” If he were 20 years younger, he said, he would have tried to keep the place open.
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But while the Silver Dollar was a focal point of his world, it was only one part of Mr. Campbell’s diverse life. He also was an attorney, an influential and staunch supporter of Republican campaigns, involved in real estate, and owned around a dozen businesses throughout his life — including other restaurants, an art gallery and a stuffed animal toy factory. Family said many of his business endeavors were spurred by the desire to support his clients.
“He was very entrepreneurial and genuine,” said son-in-law William Rotert. “You always knew where you were with him. He was honorable with his views and very good at making friends. He was very supportive of all of his friends and family members and he could be extremely generous.”
Family said he frequently donated to Shriners Hospitals for Children and the University of California at Berkeley. He played football for the Cal Bears in the 1940s.
Politics was a passion. Mr. Campbell once served as state chairman of the California Republican Party and was a member of the Republican National Committee. He also served as president of the volunteer California Republican Assembly organization. Mr. Campbell helped draft Ronald Reagan to run for governor of California and later, president of the United States.
Anhorn said her father’s commitment to the Republican Party was closely tied to his “belief in the Constitution of the United States and the founding fathers.”
And Mr. Campbell was an innovator — open to new ideas and technologies. Rotert said Mr. Campbell helped create a computer database of donors and candidates for the Republican Party. Rotert said the electronic database “revolutionized” the party, which previously relied on mailed letters and telephone calls to disseminate information.
Family described Mr. Campbell as a leader who inevitably rose to the helm of the many groups he was involved in. They recalled his sense of humor and flair for public speaking.
He could sing beautifully, they said, and along with playing clarinet, saxophone and piano, he tried his hand at banjo, ukulele and bagpipes — a tribute to his proud Scottish heritage. He was a 50-year member of the Scottish Rite and Masonic Lodge. He also was a pilot who flew for the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office search-and-rescue team.
“He was the complete package,” Anhorn said.
Daughter Robin Rotert said her father’s presence commanded attention.
“He just had a charisma about him,” she said. “I think he was an extremely intelligent man and he just had so many valuable experiences in his life and so many successes in business that people really relied on him for advice. He was worth listening to. He always had something interesting or valuable to offer.”