At 90 Doctor Continues to Help Others

Dr. Bill McCall: A Mission to Care

By Jo Dawson

Is there a doctor in the house? Yep. It’s Dr. Bill McCall, strolling through the Williams adult day-care center, talking with folks, listening to their memories and simply being another caring presence.

Bill, who’s turning 90 this year, treated many elderly patients during his 50 years practicing medicine in Winston-Salem. “I love old people,” he asserts and volunteering at Senior Services was a natural. “I’m always looking for reasons to stay busy,” he said, which is the way his mother told him to live his life: “Be considerate and make use of your talents and don’t waste time. Keep up, do things and contribute.”

Practicing medicine in the “good old days” was dawn-to-dark. Early visits to City and Baptist hospitals, eight hours in his office in the Nissen Building and then his favorite part, a couple of hours making house calls. “You learn what’s going on in the household” and how that relates to a patient’s general well-being.

Along his educational path — Wiley Elementary, Reynolds High, Duke undergraduate and medical school and a residency at what is now Wake Forest Baptist Health — Bill held on to his secondary calling — playing the violin, which he began studying at age 9. He played with the Winston-Salem Symphony until the demands of work forced him to step aside.

Bill’s parents came to the U.S. from Lebanon early in the 20th Century. His father traveled, selling fine linens through the Southeast, and then in 1925 he and his wife opened the first McCall’s Fine Linens in the old Robert E. Lee Hotel. Later Bill’s sister, Betty McCall Smith, operated the shop, which eventually moved to Reynolda Village. It was sold in 2014.

The parents, who had joined a Presbyterian mission church in Lebanon, embraced that denomination right away in the U.S. and so did Bill, who has served as a deacon and elder at First Presbyterian. He has also been involved in Hospice, headed the pharmacy committee at Crisis Control, served on the Piedmont Opera board and raised funds for the symphony. At Senior Services, part of his commitment is calling supporters to chat and thank them for their contributions.

Bill and his first wife, the late Drane Vaughn McCall, raised two sons. One is now a psychiatrist; the other is a Presbyterian minister.

Bill and his second wife, Carolyn, are enjoying a quieter life, leaving strenuous sports and major travels to others. He works out on a stationary bike, they enjoy quiet strolls, public television and she’s an “excellent cook.” Bill reads mostly history, especially about the Civil War, “stupid war but heroic people.”

Looking back, he said: “My life has been blessed by women — my mother, my sister, my wives.” Then he smiled: “And women are just smarter and better looking!”

Jo Dawson is a volunteer writer for Senior Services. This story originally appeared in the Spring 2016 Aging Matters newsletter and is reprinted with permission from Senior Services.


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