'Hot Tamale Man' dies of heart failure - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

'Hot Tamale Man' dies of heart failure

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Many Memphians know him as the Hot Tamale Man.

Bernie Campbell was a South Memphis legend who served up hot tamales for nearly 27 years.

Mr. Campbell didn't plan to take up tamales back in 1986, but it really fell into his lap. Making the spicy dish started out as a part-time gig, just another way to spend time with friends in the neighborhood.

But eventually, tamales helped him dish out his passion for helping people.

For several months he had been suffering severe health problems and long-term hospitalization. Mr. Campbell recently died of heart failure and his family needs your help laying him to rest.

"Not going to be us now, just it's just me," said Waurine Campbell, widow.

While caring for her ill parents and her husband, Waurine admitted she fell behind on bills. She's struggling to pay for Bernie's funeral service .

"Just got all screwed up and I thought even after he came home, I said, Lord. I said I didn't handle it as maybe should've been but I could not be at two places at same time," she said.

Waurine is asking for help from the Mid-South community the Hot Tamale man once served.

"Even if some of them were a little hungry he would even help them a little bit," she said. "I want him to be remembered as a gently soul, as a kind person, he was 6-foot-1, but he was very concerned about individuals, always tried to help individuals."

Hatties Hot Tamale's owner Gayle Harley says his dear friend rolled well with the spicy dish. While Mr. Campbell didn't hold a secret recipe, the retired Navy veteran charmed his way into each bite.

"He was kind of a nice good looking guy, very talkative, very friendly, that coupled with the fact that it was a pretty good hot tamale. Kind of just went together," Harley said.  

Waurine said she looked forward to celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary in June, but now, she's planning a funeral for the man, who offered a piece of himself to each customer.

"Now just to be without him, that's my best friend, I know everyday will bring change, but right now I just don't know," she said.

Mr. Campbell's wake is set for Friday, Dec. 14, and the funeral is Saturday, Dec. 15. If you would like to contribute to the service, call the family at 901-346-1949. You can also drop by any Regions Bank branch in Memphis to contribute to the Bernie Campbell Pine Hill Fund.

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