Josie Campa was honored at the City Council meeting this Monday, for her 45 years of service to the City of Lytle. Campa first came to work for the City on January 15, 1976 and saw the city go from using manual typewriters to where we are today.
She started out as the utility clerk, working under Mrs. Melva R. Masters in the 70’s. In the decades she has served the community, she has seen many city leaders come and go. In fact, she has worked beside almost every mayor in the history of Lytle (11 of the 12 mayors), including Mayor John Lott, who the city park is named after and Horace Fincher, who the Senior Annex building was renamed after. Also John Grothues, Joe Carter, Geroge Pyron, Sr., Frank Hall, John McGinnis, , Mark Bowen, and now the City’s current Mayor Ruben Gonzalez.
“Because of her commitment to the City of Lytle, this milestone in the city’s history cannot go unnoticed. Her dedication to our community for 45 years as a city employee is an achievement that will remain on city’s record books for years to come. Josie has always expressed her love for our community and takes great pride of being not only an employee of our city, but a citizen. We appreciate her devotion to our community both professionally and personally. Congrats Josie!” stated Mayor Ruben Gonzalez.
“I guess if there is one word that comes to mind for her its dedication- to the City of Lytle!”, said former Mayor Mark Bowen, who has worked with her the past 26 years either as a councilman or mayor. Being raised here all of her life she has always took the city job and the citizens very serious and with respect. She was raised by great parents that instilled those values in her which made her very special. As working with her as Mayor over the past years she was a blessing to the council and me. She does so much no one even knows about, working on many city items and projects. As I have told many, God has blessed her and our community by her being at part of helping the Lytle grow and develop over the past 45 years. Congratulations Josie!”
Campa was presented with a cake, yellow roses, a plaque w a clock on it, and a card at the meeting. Refreshments to include beautifully decorated sugar cookies acknowledging her 45 years of dedication were available at the back wall of the meeting. Several photos from years past featuring Josie at city events surrounded the refreshments.
Campa credits her parents, Joe and Annie, for instilling the work ethic, honesty, and values in her that prepared her for the job, along with her high school Typing/Business Class teacher Mr. Ruble Farmer.
“My parents were very community-minded,” Campa said. Her father served the community through the fire department, school board, Little League, and helping maintain the cemetery for some 24 years.
She also credits one of her favorite high school teachers for teaching her the skills she needed that has led to a lifetime of service to the City of Lytle.
“I couldn’t have done the job I do without Mr. Ruble’s teaching and training in Typing/Business Class.”
She added that “Mayor John Lott, the first mayor I worked with, taught me what a true public servant is. He was brilliant. Back then he wrote the grants for the City and even teamed with the school to work on their grant for the elementary school. I miss not being able to call on him whenever I have a question about early Lytle.”
Lytle has grown a lot over the past forty-five year. When Campa first came on board, there were only 3 employees in the office, including herself. The Police Chief was of course down the road at the Police Department, and there were 6 employees in the Public Works Department.
“Back then, they did all the maintenance on all of the City properties, and picked up garbage and brush too. They also operated the water, sewer and gas systems, street maintenance, as well as animal control. The library was run by the Woman’s Club back then.”
The City now has 30 employees in all, with 5 in City Hall, 8 police officers, a police dept. administrative secretary, 6 employees in the Public Works Department; 1 Code Compliance Officer; 1 park employee; 4 Library staff, and 4 in Animal control.
Lytle’s biggest boost to the economy was HEB, Campa says.
“HEB was the catalyst in 1998. After that we saw fast food chains come in such as Bill Miller Barbeque, McDonald’s, Sonic. Then, in 2011, when the HEB Plus was built, we saw more come in like Little Caesar’s, Subway, and Whataburger,” Campa said.
Some of the favorite projects she has enjoyed seeing come to be include the original park built back in 1977, the community center in 1992, the Senior Citizens’ center (now called the Horace Fincher Center) in 1999, as well as the renovation of the park in 2014 and 2015.
One of the most exciting years, was when hometown boy, Gabe Garcia, appeared on TV’s Nashville Star show. As part of the television show, a huge concert was hosted in his hometown of Lytle.
“We had 3 weeks to get things ready for a national tv show. We managed,” Campa remembers with a smile. “And we had to be very secretive to pull it off. This was the hardest part of the project. I even had to get people who worked on the project with me to sign confidentiality contracts with the tv network. Can you believe we had 10,000 people at our park to see Gabe in concert!?”
The City of Lytle goes all out as the community celebrates Christmas, Easter, and 4th of July.
“All of the events that the city does today got started back in 1997 when Mayor Fincher started the Tourism committee. Things have kind of grown from back then. Originally, the Christmas Hayride was just a caroling session at the City Hall after the lighting Main Street. The Mayor was instrumental in getting all of the decorations back then. He actually had Council members out there welding some of the decorations back then. He and Alderman Juan Garcia and their wives made trips to the Valley to buy the reindeer you see along the streets still today,” Campa said. “The committee had a blast putting lights on the deer and decorations back then.”
The annual Easter egg hunt also got started around that time too.
“These events are very rewarding in the sense that they provide something fun for the kids and citizens of Lytle. The looks and smiles on the kids’ faces at these events makes it worthwhile,” Campa said. “The big events also bring people in from other cities to Lytle, and provide funding and credits for the nonprofit groups in Lytle like the NHS and Lytle VFW. These events also help provide canned goods that allow the Lytle pantry to assist families during the year.”
A month after she started working for the City in ’76, she got a job offer from USAA and had a big decision to make.
“I decided to stay with the city,” Campa said. “I have always loved our city….I never knew anything but Lytle growing up. My parents moved to Lytle in April of 1953 and all of us kids attended Lytle schools. I think a person puts more into something when they truly care about it,” Campa adds.
In December of 1978, I was promoted to Assistant City Secretary. My boss took a medical leave of absence for a few months soon after this, so I was the only one in the office for several weeks.
“One thing that sticks in my mind is how everything was done manually when I first started with the City. The City did not have an electric typewriter. I had to type stuff on the one and only old manual typewriter with a huge carriage. This typewriter was what was used to type the city’s tax roll that had large pages, and for everything else that had to be typed including the meter books. I guess I must have complained about this, because in 1978, the city bought a used Hermes electric typewriter from surplus. It shorted out in 1979, and then the city bought three used Selectric typewriters from Lytle State Bank. I was in heaven, as this is what I had gotten used to in high school,” Campa remembers.
“We moved to the new City Hall in July of 1980. Again, I was in heaven. We had lots of room to operate in now. The old office was two rooms and a restroom. We had definitely outgrown it.
Through the years, we have remodeled this building several times, which is what the Council had hoped for. We remodeled in 1980, when we moved in; then again in 1983 to accommodate the Senior Center; in 1991 for the city’s 40 year anniversary; in 1999 to allow the Police Department to move into the east side of the building and then again in 2015.”
It was in 1985 that the City bought its first computer system.
“We also got an Administrator in the fall of 1985. But then, in 1986, a co-worker in the office was out for surgery, and then my boss had to have emergency surgery, so once again I was the only one in the office for 3 weeks. You either learn to swim or you sink!” Campa said.
“It was after this time that my boss decided to retire, so in May of 1987, Council appointed me to take her position, making me the 5th City Secretary that served Lytle since it had become a city in 1951.
I officially took that office September 1, 1987. Also, in July of this year, Council did away with the Administrator position and asked me to complete those duties, as well. I became a Registered Tax Collector in 1990, as this was part of my job, too,” Campa said.
Campa’s jobs through the years have included being City Secretary with administrative powers, Tax Collector, Payroll Clerk, Accounts Payable Clerk, Purchasing Agent for the City, Elections Administrator for the City, Human Resources, Flood Plain Administrator, Court Clerk and Court Administrator. Over the past several years, added duties have included being an event planner and in charge of Christmas decorations and Senior Citizens activities.
Campa was born and raised in Lytle, where her roots run deep.
In her school days, she was active in U.I.L. every year and was named the Highest Ranking Girl to graduate from Jr. High in 1970. In high school, she served as the basketball manager/statistician and as Senior was editor of the school paper. She received several “Outstanding Student in Academics” honors while in high school, mostly for History, which is still one of her favorite subjects. She was also voted Miss LHS by the faculty her Senior year, and was named Valedictorian of the class of 1974.
Campa was a member of the Jr. Woman’s Club, and served as President of that club from 1980 to 1982. She also served as President of the Lytle Ex-students Association from 1980 to 1982. It was also at this time that she was a member of the Lytle Centennial Committee. In the early 1980s, Campa served as Manager of the Chamber of Commerce. In 1982, Josie put together a centennial booklet for the Chamber of Commerce. She received a “Certificate of Citation” from the Texas House of Representatives for the work she had done on this project.
In 1984, it was discovered that Lytle had been left off the Rand McNally Atlas, so the Chamber went to work to “Get Lytle Back on the Map”. Josie received a globe from Replogle Globe Company in Chicago for her work with this project.
“This globe is special in the sense that it has Lytle on it instead of San Antonio!” Campa said.
She also received the “Woman of the Year” award from the Chamber of Commerce for her work on this project. Campa has also served on the Chamber Board of Directors several times over the past several years.
The City has also honored her with the annual Daniel J. McGrath, D.V.M. Citizenship Award twice. First in 2000, for her work in 1999 on the new Senior Citizens’ Center, the remodeling of the City Hall, and the planning for the city’s Millennium New Year’s party and then once again in 2009 for her work on Gabe Garcia Day for the Nashville Star competition in July of 2008.
Campa has also planned several grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremonies for the City over the years, starting in 1984 with the Dairy Queen grand opening, and then with others for HEB in 1998 and 2011, the Best Western, Beall’s, and Taco Bell, and re-grand opening of the park in 2015. Also the renaming celebration of the senior center/annex building as the Horace Fincher Center in 2014.
Another event that was co-sponsored by the city back in 2010, holds a special place in Josie’s heart, as she got to work on the 80th birthday celebration for one of her mentors, Ruble Farmer. This event was a great success due to Mr. Farmer being so well-respected and loved by this community. She had hoped to work on his 90th birthday celebration last year, but sadly, Mr. Farmer passed last February.
A huge Spurs fan Campa is known for decorating the city lobby after Spurs win right up to the finals adding a little each game. She had a blast when she asked to put on a Spurs pep rally right before their big Championship game in 2014. It was hosted in the old HEB parking lot and the town and area really showed up to enjoy the event complete with games. And as she predicted the Spurs won in no more than 5 games that year!
In her spare time, Campa enjoys sports, which goes back to her childhood days of cheering for her Dad’s Little League baseball team. While she enjoys sports, she never excelled at them and jokes about always being a “clutz”, and knowing that her older sister was the one that got not just her own athletic abilities, but her’s, as well. Anybody that knows Campa, knows she loves basketball, especially the Spurs, and was a diehard Dallas Cowboy fan back in the Tom Landry era. She fondly remembers the bus trips to Dallas with her sister Irene and her husband. Campa has always enjoyed cooking and baking too, but rarely does this anymore due to her heavy work schedule. She also enjoys going on trips to the Texas Hill Country with her sister, Paula and cousins, and hopes to spend more time in her favorite cities in the Hill Country when the pandemic ends and she retires.
Campa says that she credits her job with getting her through some tough times in her life. When her sister battled brain cancer from 1985 to 1992, Josie kept busy with several city projects that kept her from having time to dwell on her troubles.
“My job has given her the opportunity to work with a lot of wonderful people that love Lytle as much as I do,” Campa said. “I have always worked to try to be fair with everyone. I would love for Lytle to have all the money in the world, so that everyone could have all their wants, but since Lytle is not a rich community, things have to be prioritized, so that the Lytle citizens do not have to pay the price with high taxes and utility rates.”
Campa has seen Lytle grow from a town of 1,300 to now over 3,000 during her tenure with the city. And she is still going strong hard at work daily!