Roxie Campanella dead at 77

Roxie Campanella, the widow of Hall of Fame catcher Roy Campanella, died of cancer March 14 at her home. She was 77.

Roy Campanella was paralyzed in an automobile accident in January of 1958, after the Dodgers final season in Brooklyn. Campy's first wife, Ruthie, died not long after and Roy met Roxie Doles, a nurse, and they were married in 1963.

Campanella, who would later be elected to the Hall of Fame, was a three-time winner of the National League Most Valuable Player Award in 1951, 1953 and the World Championship season of 1995.

At the insistence of Walter O'Malley, the Campanella's followed the team to Los Angeles and although Roy was wheelchair-bound, he was given a job as a spring training coach and a member of the community services department.

"Roxie was a great lady and meant the world to Roy," said Don Newcombe, a teammate of Roy Campanella's who pitched for the Dodgers from 1949-58. "Roy always told me that Roxie was the reason that he was able to carry on. For that, she will always have a special place in my heart."

One of Roy's greatest moments in Los Angeles was a benefit game played against the Yankees in 1959. The huge stadium filled quickly and fans poured in to stand and pay tribute. Although the Coliseum held 93,000, the actual attendance was estimated to be well over 100,000.

The Coliseum lights were turned out and Roy was wheeled onto the field by long-time friend and Dodger captain Pee Wee Reese. The huge crowd lit candles and cigarette lighters, giving the bowl the looks of a gigantic birthday cake.

After Roy's death in 1993, Roxie carried on her husband's legacy of visiting paralyzed patients in hospitals and care facilities and she pursued better care for generations of victims of spinal cord injuries.

In 1994 the Roy and Roxie Campanella Foundation provided more than $169,000 in physical therapy scholarships for 109 students. was a frequent visitor to Dodger Stadium and a longtime supporter of victims of spinal cord injuries through her work with the Roy and Roxie Campanella Foundation.

Last year when her health failed, she put her husband's memorabilia, including his three MVP plaques, on sale and raised more than $600,000 in scholarship money for the foundations.

"Roxie was a remarkable woman," longtime Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully said. "She had the unwavering strength to support her husband during his physical problems and then continued her battle for life even though she knew her time was limited. She was a true inspiration just as Roy was. Everyone in the organization will miss her."

Roxie continued to visit Dodger Stadium and Dodgertown, and was always greeted by her many fans, players, coaches and team officials. She said, "This has been part of my life. When I leave the house to come to the ballgame, I feel like I am coming home."

Former Dodger owner Peter O'Malley, who visited Roxie often during her long illness, spoke for all who knew here when he said "Roxie had the love and admiration of everyone in the Dodger organization. Her devotion to Roy inspired us all and she will be sorely missed."

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