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Davis Journal

Clearfield resident finds her father after 50 years

Dec 30, 2020 01:34PM ● By By Peri Kinder

Kathryn Dennison met her father Bill Campbell for the first time in 2019

 She has his dimples, his blue eyes and his sense of humor, but Clearfield resident Kathryn Dennison didn’t meet her biological father until she was 50 years old.

The youngest of six children from her mother’s first marriage, Dennison always knew there was something different about her. While her older siblings had her mother’s Cherokee coloring, with dark hair and eyes, Dennison’s fair complexion was the subject of much gossip.

When she got older, Dennison approached the man she thought was her father to see if he’d take a DNA test, but he told her up-front he wasn’t her dad.

“I’d been a newborn when my parents divorced,” she said. “I had no idea who my biological father was. My mom passed away 12 years ago. I wish I could talk to my mom. I don’t know what my mom was going through at the time and there’s no judgement.”

Two years ago, Dennison’s husband bought ancestry DNA kits for Christmas. She took the test and someone showed up on her family tree as a match, but it was a woman’s name she didn’t recognize: Bonnie. Dennison reached out to her, trying to find a common family member. It turned out Bonnie was a genetic match as her half-sister.

Bonnie’s father had taken a DNA test from 23andMe but his account wasn’t public. She gave Dennison his contact information, but she carried his phone number in her pocket for three months before finally reaching out to him. 

Dennison called Bill Campbell and said he might be her father. She asked him to make his account public. Ten minutes later, she was notified there was a match to her account. Campbell was her dad.

“I got really emotional,” Dennison said. “I’d fantasized a bit about how good it would be to finally have a dad. I just didn’t know what to think.”

She exchanged emails with Campbell, hoping to find information about his relationship with her mom. He didn’t remember her mom and felt their relationship had probably been brief. 

One year ago, Dennison arranged to meet Campbell at his home in St. George. She still had doubts about him being her father, but as soon as they met, those doubts were put to rest.

“It was so surreal to have this man walk into the room and I immediately recognized myself in him,” she said. “We both stared and stared at each other, studying each other’s faces. There was no disputing we were related.”

After half a century, Dennison finally had connection to her biological father. Now 76, Campbell has warmly accepted her into the family. They’re both amazed at their similarities and how an easy DNA test brought them together.

“We have so many traits exactly the same, like our temperament and our dry sense of humor,” Dennison said. “He’s been so helpful and forthcoming with information. I’m just so grateful it worked out the way it did.”