Civil rights warrior Will D. Campbell dies at 88 By M. Alex Johnson, staff writer, NBC News Will D. Campbell, a towering figure of the U.S. civil rights movement who was the only white person present at the meeting that led to the creation of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, has died at 88, his family said Tuesday. Campbell's death Monday night was announced in an email message sent on the family's behalf to Campbell's friends and acquaintances by the noted author and journalist John Egerton, a lifelong friend. Campbell died in Nashville,Tenn., of lingering complications from a stroke he suffered in May 2011, Egerton said. "His condition had been declining gradually for the past month, and turned suddenly critical over the weekend," Egerton said. "... For him and for his family, his departure was not a cry of despair; it was more like a whispered sigh of relief. Finally, he is at peace." .