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Goodbye to GrandPa Hogette

(1997 photo by James A. Parcell - TWP)

When Ralph Campbell first told his three daughters that he was going to start wearing dresses and pig snouts to Redskins games, they weren't sure exactly how to respond.

"I was a teenager," recalled Lori Cole, Campbell's youngest daughter. "It was extremely strange. All of our friends made fun of us - what's going on there? - but later as we got older, we got to see all the events he did. We went to Joe Gibbs stuff, went to Gary Clark stuff, we actually saw the good in it, and then it got to be ok."

Campbell -- who died last week at the age of 73 -- was one of the 11 original Hogettes. He was known as GrandPa (or GrandPaw), since he picked up his first Hogette dress from his mom when he went to visit his newborn granddaughter in 1983. His friends joked that he only went to visit his granddaughter so he could score the dress. He was also the first man to actually volunteer for Hogette duty, approaching his co-worker -- founder Michael Torbert -- and requesting admission.

"I didn't have to convince him," Torbert told me. "He was this heavyset, short, kind of ugly guy. I told him what I was doing. He looked at me and said 'I want to be one of those guys.' I said, well, ok, let's go."

For most of the past 27 years, being a Hogette was a huge part of Campbell's life -- he went to two Super Bowls, conducted the National Symphony, rode an elephant down Pennsylvania Avenue, and appeared in a Visa commercial.

"My grandpa? It mean everything to him," his granddaughter, Jennifer Day told me. "I had lunch with my grandpa every Monday the last couple years, and any time he went anywhere he would hand them a Hogette card, tell them he was the guy in the yellow dress, tell them about the charities. The Navy, his family, and the Hogettes, those were the top things in his entire life, the things he was most proud of."

The Navy veteran, who served in Vietnam, actually arrived in the D.C. area early in the Gibbs Era as a Cowboys fan, due to Roger Staubach's Naval connections. He was on the path to conversion when the Hogettes began, and that completed the trick.

"He was, as we say, a natural born ham," Cole told me. "He loved the attention, but he also loved helping people, and he loved the Redskins. And he never gave up on them. Every year, he thought this was the year. He was a true Redskins fan."

His trademark was the yellow dress, seen above.

"Our designer is Calvin Swine," Campbell told the AP in 1990, in a story in which he was called "the pretty one."

"Just another pretty face in the crowd," he later told The Post.

"I like to say he may have worn a yellow dress, but he had a heart of gold," Torbert said.

Campbell retired from active duty in the Hogettes and became a so-called "missing link" after a stroke made it difficult for him to navigate FedEx Field, but he remained close with many of the members. He also remained close with several Redskins, visiting with Gary Clark and Joe Jacoby, for example. His grandson, Pat Day, was a teammate of Russ Grimm's son Chad at Oakton High, and earned second-team All Met.

Campbell will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery next month, wearing a Redskins tie. He's the first original Hogette to pass away.

"It's sort of his defining characteristic," Day said. "We didn't know him in the Navy; we knew him as a Hogette."

His daughter told me that he was also an avid sailor, and a devoted father and grandfather, and a 27-year Navy man, but she said it was fine for him to be memorialized as a Redskins fan in a dress, tying balloons for kids and making silly puns and boasting about his yellow dress.

"He would love to be remembered [that way]," she said, "and we would love for him to be remembered for all the good he did."

(1996 photo by David Stluka - AP)

By Dan Steinberg  |  September 1, 2010; 12:08 PM ET
Categories:  Redskins  
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RIP GrandPaw, and prayers for the family.

Posted by: zimbar | September 1, 2010 12:40 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for the loss but speaking of the Hogettes, its time for them to put their outfits away for good. There hasn't been a Hog for almost 20 years now! Its time to move on!!!

Posted by: dewey69 | September 1, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

RIP GrandPaw. The team should dedicate this season to a true fan who dedicated himself to them and others through good and bad seasons. HTTR!

Posted by: classicskins | September 1, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

While any family should mourn the loss of a loved one, and any community should mourn the loss of a a person who accomplishes so much for that community and asks for so little, DEDICATE A SEASON TO HIM? A grown man dresses up in a woman's dress, picks on a pig's nose, and roots for a team that disparages the American Indian and you want to dedicate the season to him? And what happens when the Redskins end up 4-12. What do you tell him family then? Ooops, well he was only a pig in a woman's dress for gosh sake. Oy ve, what is this world coming to.

Posted by: garyolney | September 1, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

A team that disparages Native Americans... I thought the name referred to the potatoes?

Posted by: GFisher1 | September 1, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

@Garyolney and Dewey69

His family is reading this and going through a hard time -- this is going to be something special for them to keep to remember a man they loved and a man who did in fact do a lot for this community. Maybe you have some valid points, but do they really have to be shared here? Is there ever a time to just be kind?

Posted by: postreader53 | September 1, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Fan Ring of Fame?


Posted by: alex35332 | September 1, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Thank you 'postreader53'for your insight. I am Grandpaw Hogettes Daughter and was very stunned to see the comments made by 'garyolney' just now as my son and I were reading this article, a wonderful tribute to my Dad.

I don't think he is aware that my father and the hogettes have raised a tremendous amount of money for Children's Hospital and many other charitible organizations.

He was a kind, wonderful and giving man who deserves a some respect and we certainly could do without ridicule during this very difficult time.

I do not belive this is the place for a discussion on the name of the Washington Redskins. My mother herself is part Cherokee Indian.

Posted by: Daughter | September 1, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I worked closely with Ralph every day from 1987 to 1989. He was a logistics analyst on the HH-60 Sikorsky helicopter and I was one of his assigned programmers. We had some great talks about the Skins and he was a class guy. My condolences to the family.

Posted by: bamaboy1 | September 1, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

RIP Grandpa, and thank you for all of your kindness and good work.

Posted by: urallimbeciles | September 1, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

we all die. this is not even a story to take up ink. these cross-dresser's took that geezer's idea and they are wearing it out. these are not hogs, their dogs. RIP slappy and thanks for the community outreach.

Posted by: doyouktt | September 1, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for all the smiles you brought to everyone over the years... from the good years to the bad years, you were always there with burgundy and gold, and loyalty is something we Skins fans honor!To the daughter and family: Let the smiles and memories your Dad brought to kids and kids at heart far out-shine any comments that are just out of place..

Posted by: CaliforniaGranata | September 1, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

Dad was as loyal as they come especially when it came to his country, his family, his Redskins and causes he believed in. He enjoyed all of the chairity events he participated in and was always happy to see the money go to help the children and he did it out of the goodness of his heart - as do all of the HOGETTES. He has 3 wonderful daughters and 4 Grandkids that he thought the world of. RIP Dad - We love you and will always remember your smile and the good you did. Your horrible daughter #4 - P.

Posted by: countrybelle2000 | September 1, 2010 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to see you go, thank you for the memories. I am truely sorry for his families' loss.

Posted by: Burrasta1 | September 1, 2010 10:45 PM | Report abuse

There are always going to be a couple of keyboard bullies that come on to a blog just to spew bad thoughts. They think it's ok because they can do it anonymously and get away with it. Cowards. Ignore them.

The Hogettes carried the flag for the Redskins through good times and bad. We all hope that the good times are once again around the corner I expect most people will never know all the lives they changed for the better through their charitable acts.

God bless him for trying.

Posted by: edvar | September 1, 2010 11:49 PM | Report abuse

Well done Dan,

You will be missed GrandPaw. At least we know he is "rootin" in heaven with ST21 now!

Posted by: navypilot17 | September 2, 2010 8:03 AM | Report abuse

Thank you to Grandpaw and all the Hogettes for showing how great Redskins fans are. RIP sir.

Dewey and Gary, I will never understand jerks like you. You know, you're not real different from the idiot Phelps family. Save your ramblings for a place other than one honoring a man who has passed.

Posted by: dtysko | September 2, 2010 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Please retire this total embarrassment!! Enough already!!

Posted by: lek91091 | September 2, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Thank you for your service to our country and supporting our Redskins. You will be missed by many. Hail!!

Posted by: Smiley2 | September 2, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

I don't find the Hogettes embarrassing, lek. I also, like others, will never understand why people feel like they can just say mean-spirited things like gary, dewey and lek. Just because the internet affords you anonymity and freedom of speech without repercussions doesn't mean you can be should be disrespectful. This is an article about the life of a man who has passed away, a man who devoted his life to helping others... a MAN.

I know that nothing I nor anyone else will say will change the behavior of you three or others like you, but please know that we know if you were to be discussing this in person you wouldn't say such hurtful things.

Posted by: etherealhell | September 2, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

I grew up watching the Skins from the early 80's on, and the Hogettes were always there. It's great to hear about all the charity work and dedication that this unique breed of fans possessed.

It's always a shame for humanity to lose a good man, and from what I'm reading here he assuredly was one. RIP GrandPaw!

Posted by: HawgHeaven | September 2, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I almost cringed when I saw that this bog entry was left opened for reader comments, given the number of uneducated trolls and nimrods that comment on these types of articles. While the good majority are simply "fans" of other teams who harbor a secret Redskins fetish and thus scour the internet for our blogs and articles, I am always taken back by those who claim to be 'Skins fans yet spew such insensitive garbage on here. Besides the basic respect that should be displayed for a fellow American that served our country and has now passed on, any red-blooded, time-tested Redskins fan would see no choice but to respect the tradition that was - and is - The Hogettes, Chief Zee, Marching Band, etc. God only knows how our fan base would be perceived if it was represented only by those who wear Anti-Snyder t-shirts, moan about the price of a beer and parking, or feel the need to boast about how they "surrendered their season tickets" in exchange for a big screen TV. Now THAT is the "total embarrassment" for this franchise and fan base, trust me. Always ready to tarnish the name and tradition of dedicated fans, but never ready to join us at FedEx Field and help recreate a game-changing atmosphere. Pathetic.

Posted by: SuperSkin | September 2, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I've been a Redskin fan since the George Allen days and through the good years and the bad years the Hogettes always made me smile. Every NFL team has their fans that dress outrageously to cheer on their teams and the Hogettes reflected the offensive line "Hogs" of the Gibbs-era teams and offensive lines since. GrandPaw sounds like a good man, and his charitable works only serve to strengthen that view. I'm sorry for the family's loss, and I'd like to fondly remember GrandPaw and every Hogette that cheered on the Redskis!

Posted by: steven7753 | September 2, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

This is a guy that was used for good. Period. The Hogs are legendary, and the offensive lines of the Redskins will always be called The Hogs. But, it's funny how some folks with big hearts, souls, and spirits can take something seemingly simple and parlay it into doing good in the world. God Bless you GranPaw!!!

Posted by: bharn | September 2, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Mr. Campbell for your naval service and for your support of the Redskins. You and the others became iconic symbols of the glory teams of the 80's. I always enjoyed the crowd shots with you in it. You will be missed.

Posted by: SorrySkins | September 2, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Great article. I always loved the Hogettes. Very nice to honor him with this great piece--he and the hogettes meant a lot to football fans. They carried team spirit at all times--whether team was struggling or soaring.

Posted by: kmbd | September 2, 2010 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Thank you GrandPaw. Thank you for your service to our country. Thank you for helping to raise money for children's chairities and helping in other ways. As people learn how much you and the other Hogettes help, they will learn to respect your Hogette uniform almost as much as your Navy uniform. Last time I checked, you and the other Hogettes had helped to raise over fourteen million dollars for children's chairities. You helped Youth for Tomorrow help troubled teenagers. I know the Hogettes helped Rikkis Refuge raise money for homeless animals and I know of other good causes you and other Hogettes have helped. I hope your family and friends realize that most people greatly appreciate the smiles and much needed funds that your Hogette career provided.Thank You

Posted by: Redeye1 | September 2, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

RIP Grandpaw. Thanks for the memories.

Hail to the Redskins!

Posted by: boog44 | September 3, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

RIP Grandpaw. Thanks for the memories.

Hail to the Redskins!

Posted by: boog44 | September 3, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Lovely article, and a lovely tribute. I, too, have followed the Redskins since the George Allen days -- my step-father, may he rest in peace -- loved the ole Over-the-Hill-Gang with an unrestrained glee that will, forever cement my own love for the team.

And I loved the Hogettes. They were a funny, wonderful part of that wonderful '80s era. Grandpaw sounds like a wonderful man and I'm so glad his daughters and others have commented on this board.

As for those making stupid comments, I suspect they're sad little people, who deserve pity more than anything.

Thanks for the memories Grandpaw, and Go 'Skins!

Posted by: donquixote3 | September 3, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

some of these pig women sweet talked their way into the expensive floor seats at canton for boss hog grimm's induction this summer. couldn't pay like everyone else. class-less!

Posted by: damannion | September 3, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Every true Skins fan lovs the Hogettes. They are an icon of the franchise. Thanks for all the great memories. RIP

Posted by: b37bomber | September 3, 2010 3:38 PM | Report abuse

damannion doesn't seem to understand-but-I think the NFL does.
I thought it was great when the Hogettes were inducted into the NFL hall of fame. I think the induction proves that the NFL respects the Hogettes. If the Hogettes were awarded floor seats at "hog grimm's induction" I think that also shows respect. Many people fail to show respect-but-I think respect is due. I think the NFL provides floor seats for all "well respected invited guests" that attend inductions.
Sorry I had to focus on that at this time. I hope people can avoid negative misleading statements during this most difficult time for family and friends.

Posted by: Redeye1 | September 3, 2010 5:38 PM | Report abuse

The second commentator had it right. There haven't been Hogs in DC for 20 years. The Hoggettes are an embarrassing reminder of everything the current Skins are not.

Posted by: wfiske | September 4, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

The Hoggettes gave me many, many belly laughs over the years. Thanks Grandpaw for reminding us that it is the fans that make the sport, and for using your notoriety to accomplish so much good.

Posted by: jbspear | September 4, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

we all die. this is not even a story to take up ink. these cross-dresser's took that geezer's idea and they are wearing it out. these are not hogs, their dogs. RIP slappy and thanks for the community outreach.

Posted by: doyouktt | September 1, 2010 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Now there's a class A Jackass for ya!!

Posted by: skinztattoo89 | September 4, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Ralph Campbell was a class act. I coached his grandson Patrick at age 8 when he played for Reston Youth Football. Mr. Campbell always lent his support and notoriety towards much needed community charities. It was always great having him in the stands as he cheered for an ankle-biters team just as avid as did the Redskins. As a life-long Skins fan, the Hogettes deserve much credit to our O-lines success. They blocked extra hard knowing the special dedicated fan club wearing dresses. These men had the courage to lace stockings, so the Hogs had the courage to provide gaping holes. They sacrificed their pride so that our O-line had pride. You see, success is a perpetual circle or O. My condolences to his family, friends and all in Redskin Nation. Phil Bradley.

Posted by: PHILMONIR | September 4, 2010 10:32 PM | Report abuse

The second commentator had it right. There haven't been Hogs in DC for 20 years. The Hoggettes are an embarrassing reminder of everything the current Skins are not.

Posted by: wfiske

sorry, he had it precisely bass-ackwards. The Hogettes are a reminder of a standard of excellence to which this current crop should aspire. to retire them would be an exercise in abject surrender.

that said, i'll dig out my own snout to wish Mr. Campbell's family my heartfelt best wishes. Your father created fond memories for all who encountered him.

Posted by: mdrockjock | September 5, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

nice story but That era is over we now have the "Danette's" Its a small group of guys that where beak like Jewish noses run around the stadium tearing every ones sign up than charging them 35 bucks for the clean up

Posted by: thomasuras | September 5, 2010 3:43 PM | Report abuse

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