Tom McCall: biography, creativity, career, personal life


Thomas McCall was born in Egypt, Massachusetts, in 1913, there passed his childhood. He was the grandson of “Copper King” Thomas Lawson and Congressman Samuel W. McCall. As a child, he often moved from one grandfather’s estate to another’s ranch and back again.

Tom graduated from high school in Redmond and then enrolled at the University of Oregon. However, later financial problems began in the family, he had to interrupt his studies, and so he received a degree in journalism only after five years. His grandfather Thomas Lawson eventually went into ruin definitively.

Journalistic career

After completing his studies in 1936 he worked as a freelance correspondent in various newspapers in the city of Bend and later moved to the university city of Moscow. Here he wrote notes for the News-Review.

He liked journalistic work, but fate knows better where to serve society. McCall served for a time as a correspondent on a warship, and one day on radio station KGW he was asked to talk about it. When the station manager heard his voice, he immediately demanded a contract with that journalist, and Thomas was taken to work as a news announcer.

Until 1949, he worked at the site, and then he was taken as an assistant to Oregon Governor Douglas Mackay. He stayed there for three years and then returned to radio to move into television a bit later.

He became an announcer at the Oregon TV station, and worked there for more than a year — until 1954, until he moved to another post. From that time on, he began to make confident moves in politics.

A political career

McCall first ran his candidacy for Governor of Oregon in 1954, however lost to Edith Green. He was only lucky in 1966, and was re-elected again in 1970. As governor, he placed great emphasis on environmental protection and land-use planning. In doing so, he made a significant contribution to the development of the state.

Grateful Oregon residents memorialized his activities in bronze – putting up a monument on the banks of the Willamette River.

He would probably get re-elected once more, however, the Oregon Constitution only allows two terms to be in office as governor. After leaving high office, McCall worked as a commentator for Portland broadcaster KATU.

McCall died of prostate cancer at the age of 69 at Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland on January 8, 1983.

Personal life

In February 1939, the future governor met Audrey Owen of Spokane, and months later they were already husband and wife. They had two sons: Samuel Walker McCall III, who died at the age of 40, and Thomas “Tad” McCall, an environmental consultant.

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