Miami Lakes

Miami Lakes remembers a tireless community advocate

Miriam Campos, widow of Sergio Campos, stands near the intersection that will be named after her husband as her children David Campos, 42, and Denise Hing, 39, looks stand near.
Miriam Campos, widow of Sergio Campos, stands near the intersection that will be named after her husband as her children David Campos, 42, and Denise Hing, 39, looks stand near. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Sergio Campos was always around for his neighbors.

As president of the Loch Ness Homeowners Association, he’d take calls and answer emails any time of the day. It didn’t matter if he was at home, on vacation or in the hospital being treated for cancer — he was there to help.

On April 16, his second day in hospice care, neighbor after neighbor came to visit Campos at his home in the Loch Ness subdivision of Miami Lakes. The 72-year-old was overjoyed by their presence.

“I’m here to serve,” Campos said to his daughter Denise Hing that day. “I’m here to serve my community.”

Campos died 10 days later on April 26.

His family, friends and community continue to mourn for him.

To honor Campos’ nearly two decades of service to the Loch Ness community, the Miami Lakes council took the first step toward co-designating Loch Ness Drive as Sergio Campos Way during its May 5 meeting.

“From the bottom of my heart, and I can tell you this on behalf of all the residents in this community, we really appreciate the work that he did throughout the years,” Vice Mayor Manny Cid said. “And this is a token of our appreciation.”

Campos lived in Loch Ness for about 30 years, and quickly became his neighborhood’s go-to person.

When neighbors wanted a nearby lake cleaned, or a roadway widened, they knew Campos would get those tasks accomplished — and he did. They also turned to him for doctor recommendations and tips on which lawn service to hire.

“That was his thing, if people called and they needed help, even if he didn’t have the answer, he’d get [them] the answer,” said his son David Campos, 42. “He’d always make time for people.”

To help his neighbors get quicker access to information, Campos launched a website, sergiocamposonline.com, where he’d post the latest happenings in Loch Ness and provide links to state and county resources, and weather information.

“Everything my father did, he did with others in mind,” said Hing, 39. “It wasn’t about him, it was about improving the lives of others.”

Campos would regularly send emails to his neighbors, community leaders and political figures on local issues.

“I don’t know if you guys realize the impact that Sergio had, not only in this community, but statewide,” said Cid, adding that Gov. Rick Scott and his staff would mention Campos’ emails to him during trips to Tallahassee.

Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi, who was friends with Campos, spoke about Campos’ love for community during a special presentation declaring May 5, 2015, Sergio Campos Day.

Pizzi then shared a story of how Campos had once worked to have a left turn lane put in outside of Loch Ness Drive. When crews finished the project, Pizzi got a call from Campos saying, “Mayor Pizzi, they did the left turn wrong. What did you do? Come out there.”

“I was crushed, but eventually he was right,” Pizzi said. “Sergio directed the engineers as to where he wanted the cement, he got on his knees and he was painting the white line. But that’s how much Sergio loved his community.”

Above all, family was Campos’ top priority.

He used to say that his three children made him feel like a millionaire, but his eight grandchildren, they made him feel like a billionaire.

“He was always so humble, and so nice. I never saw him mad; he was amazing,” said Miriam Campos, his wife of 51 years. “He was always telling them to be good people, to study and to work hard.”

Lissette Campos-Perez said that her father was a “master storyteller,” and that his tales always had a life lesson attached to them.

“My dad had so many stories,” said Campos-Perez, 47, of Tampa. “When you have a dad that special and unique and loving, it’s hard not to be able to be with him.”

One of his favorite stories to tell was about the clothing he received from the Salvation Army shortly after arriving in New York from his native Havana in the fall of 1961.

“Here we found ourselves really penniless and almost homeless, and they gave us so much that thinking about it, it almost brings tears to my eyes,” Campos recalled in a video he made about the organization.

Never forgetting the ways in which the organization helped him, Campos became a lifetime donor to the Salvation Army.

“It’s better to give than to receive,” Campos said in the video.

Campos’ family has taken all his lessons to heart.

“If I could be half the man he was, I will have much success,” said David, who sometimes asks himself, ‘What would dad do?’ through the day. “My father was one of a kind. He was very special.”

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