Call was a man who was there for his community
If there is one thing that Mark Call would be known for, it just may be that he was always there for his community and the people in it.
“If anybody needed something, he was there to help,” said Curt Morris of Quincy, who grew up with the Call family children. “He just loved the town of Quincy.”
Call, 98, passed away on Sunday at Quincy Valley Medical Center – the same hospital that he helped establish 56 years ago.
The longtime pharmacist and orchardist was known as a generous and giving man who supported his community in a variety of ways, from volunteering as the hospital’s pharmacist to being an avid Quincy Jackrabbits fan and supporter.
“If somebody needed something, he was there to help,” Sonja Akerman, Call’s daughter, said this week.
“He touched a lot of lives,” agreed his son, Mark Call.
Born in Rugby, N.D., Call and his late wife Lucille moved their family of six to the Quincy area via the Tri-Cities. In 1952, Call had heard of the Columbia Basin Irrigation Project and the coming of water to the scablands; he saw a future in Quincy. In 1954, he opened Call’s Drug, which he operated with Lucille for 30 years in the downtown.
Growing up, Call’s Drug – especially its soda fountain – was the place to hang out, Morris said.
“Everybody met at Call’s Drug,” he said.
Call was among many business people who came to the area in the early 1950s, following the irrigation project, Morris said. He was a town pioneer who came to the city when it started to grow and then got to work helping it prosper, Morris said.
“Mark lived a good life and a happy life,” said Dr. Jim Stansfield, who knew Call for more than 70 years. “He made some very significant contributions to Quincy and the Quincy hospital.”
Call is perhaps best known as one of the founders of the Quincy Hospital. The hospital district was created by a public vote in November 1950. It took nine years for it to open as a core group of volunteers, Call included, worked on its planning, funding and construction.
When the hospital opened on Aug. 30, 1959, Call was its board chairman. Some 1,300 people lined up to tour the hospital the day before it opened, according to an article at the time. The hospital opened with a staff of 20, and the first baby was delivered there only 36 minutes after it opened, the QVPR reported.
“Our hospital is something of which our community can well be proud,” the board wrote in a letter to the newspaper. “It is a wonderful example of what community desire and cooperation can do.”
Along with leading the new hospital, Call also volunteered as the hospital pharmacist for 25 years. Oftentimes, Call would work at his own business and then see to his duties at the hospital, coming in nearly every night, Stansfield said. Call was instrumental in providing care to patients when the hospital did not have a pharmacy.
“He was a significant contributor to the healthcare of Quincy,” the retired doctor said of Call.
Call also was among five people who founded the Quincy Valley Hospital Foundation in 1990. At the time of his death, he still held the position of founding director on that board.
“Mark actively participated in foundation fundraising events until health issues forced him to take a less active role,” said Verna Teeter, the foundation’s president. “He continued to support the foundation through memorial contributions and donations. The foundation appreciated Mark for his lifetime commitment.”
Call’s impact extended beyond the hospital. Along with being a big supporter of the schools and their athletic teams, Call was the last living charter member of the Quincy Rotary Club, said Jack Tobin. Call was a recipient of the Paul Harris Fellow Award.
Call’s friends also talked of his love for goose hunting. Called Papa Goose by his grandchildren, Call used goose hunting as a way to unwind, his son said. During hunting season, he would go early in the morning before opening up Call’s Drug.
“He would lay out in a wheat field in the peace and quiet,” the younger Call said. “He just loved it out there.”
But it was Call’s positive attitude that Morris will remember most. He was never critical; instead, if he saw a problem, he went out and found a solution, Morris said.
“If we all had his positive attitude, there would be no end to what we could do here,” Morris said. “No one had more of an upbeat attitude for the city of Quincy and its people.”
Services for Call are 1 p.m. on Monday at St. Paul Lutheran Church.
— By Jill FitzSimmons, firstname.lastname@example.org