Dr. Mike McCall, 95, passed away peacefully of natural causes Monday evening, closely attended by his son Palmer, Autumn Care nurses, and caregivers.
He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Joyce Palmer McCall, native of Fort Pierce, Florida.
Dr. Mike was born in Marion on May 1, 1927, the youngest of six children.
He was predeceased by his parents, Clifton Reid McCall and Joseph Julia Lillian Gruber McCall (Josie), by his sisters Katherine (Noblitt) and Anne (Duncan), and his brothers Harry, Charlie, and Clarence.
He is survived by seven children:
• Jennifer Joyce McCall (David Knox) of Raleigh
• Dr. Grace Conley Auten (George) of Hickory
• Dr. Stuart Michael McCall (Elsa) of Santa Fe, NM
• Rachel Kendall McCall Lucas (Simon) of Hickory
• Charlotte Dawn McCall Orton
• Alice Palmer McCall (Rick Earl) of Greensboro
• Palmer Clifton McCall of Marion
Granddad, or “Granddaddy and Mike” is also survived by 19 grandchildren and step-grandchildren, and 9 great-grandchildren.
Dr. Mike met Joyce in Atlanta during medical training at Grady Hospital while she pursued her Nursing degree at Emory Nursing School. They were married May 2, 1953, and after a year living in Durham, returned to Marion. Dr. Mike served in the US Army and remained in the Army Reserves until the early 1960s. Following World War II, he was accepted to Duke Medical School, just shy of earning his degree from Vanderbilt. Joyce would tease him that he was the only doctor she knew who didn’t have an undergraduate degree. This was remedied in 2011, when Vanderbilt University hosted Dr. Mike for a private luncheon with family and conferred the degree in the presence of several deans and the university historian. Mike Conley wrote an article about the event for The McDowell News, which can be accessed online.
To his family, Dr. Mike seemed to have a superhuman work ethic. In 1956, he established a private practice with Dr. Lloyd Miller in Marion. Joyce later accompanied him as an RN at the practice for several years. In 1968, Dr. Mike joined the staff of Broughton Hospital in Morganton. For thirteen years, he worked full-time in Morganton and part-time in Marion until he closed the Marion practice in 1981. He also worked as an attending physician at Hilltop House Nursing Home (now Autumn Care). Somehow, Dr. Mike always made it home for supper, even if his work and house calls lasted late into the night. In fact, he was one of the last remaining doctors in NC to make house calls. He continued working at Broughton Hospital until retiring in 1997 as Director of Geriatric Medicine.
However, Dr. Mike’s “retirement” was short-lived, and a brief stint as a car salesman soon convinced him to revert to the profession he loved. He returned to work at the J. Iverson Riddle Center in Morganton, at one point sharing a position with his daughter Grace, who continues to work at the Riddle Center. Dr. Mike later worked for 21st Century Oncology in Marion and continued to drive himself to work until the age of 90.
Dr. Mike was a highly skilled and caring physician who served the people of McDowell County for decades. His children will attest that they have been stopped on the street numerous times by perfect strangers, who would say, “Your Daddy delivered me” and then express how much they cherished and loved him.
Dr. Mike was a man of great faith, and he and Joyce were charter members of the First Christian Church on Rutherford Road in Marion. They helped organize construction of the building in 1960 and also its recent expansion. Dr. Mike served as an elder for decades and remained a dedicated member until his passing.
Dr. Mike had keen interest in technology and engineering, and particularly enjoyed trains and automobiles. His first car was a 1931 Cadillac coupe, followed by a panoply of vehicles ranging from sports coupes to limousines. During the 1960s and 70s, he and his brothers and sister Anne kept large sedans that could be pressed into service for McCall’s Funeral Home when needed. Like his father, Dr. Mike let his children drive the newer, safer vehicles.
With a large and growing family, Dr. Mike and Joyce adopted Airstream trailers for economical travel during the 1960s. Trips to Joyce’s parents’ farm in Harrison, GA were made easier when they could bring their own lodging. The trailers facilitated epic trips to the SC beaches, to Florida, and even as far as British Columbia and Alberta. Each adventure usually began with a last-minute detour for one departing house call. Dr. Mike never lost his travel bug and made numerous trips to England and other parts of Europe with friends and family until his late 80s.
Dr. Mike was a generous provider. He worked hard throughout his life to provide a comfortable home, funds for his children’s and grandchildren’s education, and health and mental support for his community. Dr. Mike welcomed his international colleagues who moved to the United States over the years from the Philippines, China, Russia, Ireland, and other countries to practice medicine and grow their own families. He enjoyed a happy and successful life and always shared that with others.
The family would like to thank the caregivers at Autumn Care of Marion, who have treated Dr. Mike with great love, not only as a resident, but as a colleague. Special thanks also to Tonia Harris, RN, and Samantha Kaylor Stevens, BSW, of CarePartners Hospice, who provided compassionate, timely, and crucial care along with prompt communication. The family also offers gratitude to our private CNA caregivers Brenda Andrews, Kay Morris, and Autumn Andrews, whose professional skill and personal dedication have been unmatched and priceless.
Visitation will be at Beam’s funeral home on Sunday, October 16th, between 5:00 and 7:00 pm. The funeral will take place at First Christian Church on Monday, October 17th at 3:00 pm, followed by a graveside committal, with military honors, at Oak Grove Cemetery and refreshments back at the church.
If you wish to make a donation in Dr. Mike's memory, please consider the First Christian Church of Marion at PO Box 1104, Marion, NC 28752 or a charity of your choice.