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Glen Campbell's widow on God's faithfulness through singer's struggles with addiction, Alzheimer's

Glen Campbell's widow on God's faithfulness through singer's struggles with addiction, Alzheimer's

Glen and Kim Cambell | Courtesy of Kim Campbell

Glen Campbell’s wife, Kim, has opened up about God’s faithfulness through the ups and downs of the couple’s 34-year marriage, from the legendary singer’s struggle with addiction to his heartbreaking fight against Alzheimer's disease.

“Glen has a musical legacy, but he also had a beautiful legacy of courage and overcoming adversity,” Kim recalled in an exclusive interview with The Christian Post of her late husband, who won 10 Grammy Awards, released more than 70 albums, and sold more than 45 million records throughout his storied career.

“Glen was a really godly man, a spiritual leader for our family," the 61-year-old former dancer said. "He taught our kids right from wrong and was just an amazing person. He overcame so many things: the trauma of his childhood, the betrayals of relationships, the addiction to alcohol and drugs, and was such a hero in opening himself up and making himself vulnerable and transparent.”

Yet, for much of his adult life, country music’s Grammy-winning “Rhinestone Cowboy” struggled with alcohol and drug addiction ⁠— battles Kim candidly recounts in her new memoir, Gentle on My Mind: In Sickness and in Health with Glen Campbell.

“Glen was my best friend, truly a good man when he wasn’t drinking,” Kim recalled of her husband, who she married in 1982, when he was 46 and she was 24. “But when he drank, he was full of rage; entirely unrecognizable.”

Courtesy of Media Maison

In her memoir, Kim details one particularly frightening occasion when, shortly after the birth of their first son, Cal, Glen drunkenly pointed a pistol at her. After a few moments, he turned and walked away.

“It was terrifying,” she admitted. 

At that moment, Kim said she heard a voice clearly recite Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

“I embraced those words,” she said. “They gave me determination because I realized that there was a spiritual battle going on over Glenn's life very life, and if I left, he would die. I prayed and prayed and I just had to believe that God would deliver him from that bondage.”

“But,” she continued, “I knew that something did have to change and that's when I decided I wasn't going to let Glen make the rules for me. Up until that point he had told me that I was not allowed to talk about his drinking with anyone. I decided to reach out and get help.”

After the pistol incident, Glen and Kim joined a Baptist church where they soon found a community of positive, uplifting friends. 

“I always said God led us to the Baptist church because the Baptists didn't drink,” Kim said with a chuckle. 

With the support of his family and friends ⁠— including fellow music stars Alice Cooper and Gene Autry — Glen remained sober for 15 years. 

“Over the years, God put a lot of different people in Glen’s path that helped him face his demons,” Kim said. “So many people poured into his recovery.” 

The Campbells, now a family of five, settled into family life ⁠— years Kim recalls as “absolutely beautiful.”

“We had a period of ordinary; just doing life like everyone else, where our kids played t-ball and we cruised as a family with nothing remarkable to add,” she recalled. “We still had the celebrity thing where he was doing shows all over the world, but we lived a normal life. Our house was full of music and praising the Lord. We embraced every moment together, just simple things like having coffee together. We truly were best friends. He was the best father and husband I could’ve asked for.”

Trevor Albert

In 2003, Glen relapsed and was arrested on suspicion of DUI and aggravated assault on a police officer following a hit-and-run. At the time, he was struggling with depression and anxiety, which Kim said she now realizes were two early warns signs of Alzheimer’s. 

After making a public apology and spending 10 days in jail and a month at the Betty Ford Center, Glen once again committed to his recovery, Kim said. The family then moved to Malibu to start anew.  

“Throughout all of this, I knew that Glen was truly seeking the Lord, seeking a deeper relationship with God, and that I could be there to support that,” she said. “I just believed in him as a human being. He had so much goodness in his heart. He was such a good man when he wasn't drinking. I just truly believed that God would deliver him and He did.”

“I think the faith component is essential in a marriage,” she added. “In those dark days, my faith was the only thing sustaining me.”

In late 2010, when Glen was 74, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. As his illness progressed, the singer began being physically combative and increasingly unable to communicate. 

“I began to suffer from crippling depression,” Kim said. “Losing my husband and watching that happen to him, that broke my heart.”

“Once again, my faith got me through those dark days,” she continued. “Every morning I opened my eyes and said, ‘this is the most horrible thing that could happen to us, yet I’m choosing to count my blessings and thank God for all the good things I have in my life.’ I would ask God to help me be a blessing to those around me. I listened to sermons and positive messages and tried to fill my life with positive people who would speak life over me.”

After years of caring for Glen, Kim made the decision in 2014 to move him to Abe’s Garden, an Alzheimer’s and Memory Care Center in Nashville, Tennessee. On Aug. 8, 2017, Glen died at the age of 81.

“Some days are still hard,” Kim admitted. “I miss him every day. I was grieving the loss of my husband long before he ever passed away physically. With Alzheimer's you kind of lose them twice. They lose their memory and they start losing their identity, they don't remember you or your life together and it's so heartbreaking. I would have nightmares every night about the experience and I realized I had PTSD.”

Today, Kim urges caregivers to get help and support ⁠— and seeks to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s and bring increased support to those suffering from cognitive disabilities. 

“While caring for Glen, I realized how hard it is to get quality services and memory care for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia,” she shared. “I want to help improve the quality of life and socialization of those suffering from those kinds of diseases. Glen loved people; he loved socialization and hanging out and the sense of belonging it afforded him, even during his battle with Alzheimer’s. My heart is full of compassion for people who have dementia, and I want to try to make their lives better.”

Through her new memoir, Kim said she hopes to highlight the importance of faith and encourage those who are be struggling in their own lives. 

“I tried to be brutally honest because the Bible is that way,” she said. “King David fell into sin.  He took another man’s wife and sent her husband to the front line of battle to die. But David repented and the Bible calls him a man after God’s own heart. Glen too, had a heart for God. Faith was everything to us, and that is what sustained us in the end.”

She added, “Glen was a courageous and brave human being; a giving and loving man who loved the Lord, and I hope this memoir honors his legacy.”

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