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John DeCamp papers

 Collection — Box: Box 1
Identifier: decaj00

Scope and Contents

This contains artifacts pertaining to the Purdue Seal and Speed Reducer Assembly. It includes one set of bookends with Purdue seal, a metal casting of a Purdue seal, a resin/composite of a Purdue seal, and a leather Purdue pennant.


  • Other: Dummy Date


Biographical Information

John R. DeCamp, Sr. was known as “The Voice of Purdue” for 43 years. DeCamp, a native of Kendallville, Indiana, was born on February 11, 1921 to Arthur J. DeCamp and Ednah Randall DeCamp. He was best known for his play-by-play broadcasts of Purdue football and basketball games.

DeCamp began attending Purdue in 1938 in the field of electrical engineering. However, a medical exam indicated he had tuberculosis and he was moved to the Irene Byron Sanitarium in Fort Wayne, Indiana. DeCamp returned to Purdue in the fall of 1939. His career started at WBAA, the Purdue University radio station, as an undergraduate in 1940. During this time, he broadcasted sporting events with Lawrence P. Meyers. DeCamp also worked at an Indianapolis radio station WIRE. He graduated from Purdue in 1943 with a degree in electrical engineering. Not long after graduation he returned to the Irene Byron Sanitarium in Fort Wayne, Indiana due a recurrence of tuberculosis.

DeCamp's work at WBAA and Purdue University spanned decades. He began working as a full-time announcer for WBAA in 1945. In 1946, he became chief announcer and later that year production manager. In 1950 he was named program director. Decamp was the manager of WBAA from 1960 to 1975. DeCamp then became director of public relations and promotions for the Purdue athletic department from 1975 to 1986. He credited his career choice to Gunnar Elliott, an early play-by-play announcer DeCamp listened to as a child.

In Lafayette he served in several capacities for the Lafayette midget stock car races from 1950-1956. DeCamp also had a twenty-two year career as an announcer of the Indianapolis 500 auto race for WXLW, an Indianapolis radio station, beginning in 1957.

In 1971 he was named Indiana Top Broadcaster of the Year; he was inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame in 1974. DeCamp was awarded Sagamore-of-the-Wabash in 1986, and inducted into the Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame in 1996.

A major accomplishment of his career at Purdue was his defense of WBAA. During the 1960s and into the 1970s members of the administration questioned the value of the station. DeCamp successfully defended the funding of the station noting its importance for public relations.

DeCamp was a member of the Reamer Club, the Coaches’ Club, Faculty Fellows: Owens Hall Organization, and the John Purdue Club and was also a faculty advisor to the Gimlet Club. A scholarship was named in his honor. DeCamp retired in 1986.


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John DeCamp papers
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Repository Details

Part of the Purdue University Archives and Special Collections Repository

504 Mitch Daniels Boulevard
West Lafayette Indiana 47907 United States