Authorities reported that the body of a missing paddle boarder was found in a lake at Martha’s Vineyard, the Massachusetts resort community. The deceased individual was identified as Tafari Campbell, a 45-year-old personal chef who had previously worked for former president Barack Obama. The incident occurred near a property owned by the Obamas on Sunday night, where witnesses observed Campbell struggling and submerging underwater while paddle boarding in Edgartown Great Pond.
Tafari Campbell had been employed as a sous chef at the White House during Obama’s second term and continued to work for the family after the end of Obama’s presidency in 2016. The Obamas expressed their grief in a statement, describing Campbell as a cherished member of their family who possessed a strong passion for food and its ability to bring people together. They fondly remembered him as a warm, fun, and exceptionally kind person who brightened their lives.
Following the report of the paddle boarder’s disappearance, search operations were initiated, and divers began combing the lake for Campbell’s whereabouts. Tragically, his body was recovered from Edgartown Great Pond the next day, as confirmed by the Massachusetts State Police.
Tafari Campbell is survived by his wife, Sherise, and their twin sons. At the time of the incident, Campbell was visiting Martha’s Vineyard from his residence in Dumfries, Virginia, while the Obamas were absent.
Authorities are investigating the circumstances surrounding Campbell’s death. It’s worth noting that this accident is the second first family drowning death. White House chef Walter Schreib, who had served as the executive chef under former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, accidentally drowned while hiking in New Mexico in June 2015.
As the Obamas prepared to depart from the White House, they invited Tafari to remain with them, and he graciously accepted, becoming an integral part of their lives after that.
Campbell frequently showcased his culinary masterpieces on Instagram and was among the chefs involved in crafting the White House honey ale beer during Barack’s presidency. This unique brew utilized honey sourced from Michelle’s South Lawn Garden. In 2012, the White House released a video featuring Campbell and then-assistant chef Sam Kass, demonstrating the beer-making process.