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    Today March 22, 1913 Thomas William Lawson “Tom” McCall was born in Egypt, Massachusetts to Dorothy (Lawson) and Henry “Hal” McCall. Tom had two brothers Henry Jr. & Samuel Walker II. Two sisters Jean Munroe & Dorothy E. Tom was the grandson of copper-king Thomas Lawson and Massachusetts governor and congressman Samuel Walker McCall. As a child he divided his time between Thomas Lawson’s Massachusetts estate named Dreamwold and his father’s ranch near Redmond, Oregon named Westernwold on the Crooked River.

    In 1931? Tom graduated from Redmond High School and had worked as a reporter for the Bend Bulletin newspaper. In March 1936 McCall was University of Oregon, President of The Order of The “O” and President of his class. In June 1936 Tom McCall graduated from University of Oregon School of Journalism with a degree. In February 1937 Tom moved to Moscow, Idaho to write for the “Moscow News-Review” newspaper.

    In February 1939 newspaper reporter Tom McCall was sent to write a story on modern cooking classes prepared on electric ranges. These demonstrations were conducted by “Washington Water Power” in Moscow, Idaho. McCall interviewed Audrey Owen who was a home economist for the company. “He was a very hungry reporter,” Audrey remembered. He sat down and ate all her work. “That’s how we became acquainted.” On May 19, 1939 Tom proposal to Audrey and she accepted. The following day…

    On May 20, 1939 Thomas William Lawson McCall, 26, married 24 year old Grace “Audrey” Owen in Moscow, Idaho. Tom kept the marriage a secret from his parents for months.

    Audrey had attended Washington State College in Pullman, Wash. 11 miles West. I believe Audrey was Tom’s connection to the college radio station KWSC where he received his first broadcast experience. By 1940 McCall must have been one of the stations best, he interviewed Eleanor Roosevelt. In March 1942 Tom was fired from the News-Review.

    In April 1942 McCall landed a job at “The Oregonian” newspaper as a staff writer in sports and news. His first article appeared 5-3-42. On March 14, 1944 Tom & Audrey welcomed their first son Thomas William Lawson “Tad” McCall, Jr. In April 1944 Tom McCall was drafted into the Navy but was able to continue with “The Oregonian” for the time being.

    June 28, 1944 Tom McCall began on Portland radio as “Lawson McCall.” Tom’s first name was thought to be, too common. He started as a KGW-KEX newscaster with a 15 minute newscast at 10:15am on KGW & 3:15pm on KEX weekdays. This ended on September 25, 1944 when seaman Tom McCall was shipped out September 27, 1944. In February 1945 Tom became a Navy correspondent at Pearl Harbor, then six months on the cruiser St. Louis as a Navy combat correspondent.

    By January 4, 1946 McCall had returned to Portland and was back on KEX February 12th hosting the 15 minute “Talk of The Town” program at 8:15pm. On February 12, 1946 KEX debuted the 15 minute “Lawson McCall with The News” broadcast at 9:30pm Sunday through Friday’s. This would become a popular program for listeners for years. On May 21, 1946 the last “Talk of The Town” was broadcast. On July 15, 1946 “Lawson McCall with The News” moved to 10:00pm Sunday through Friday’s. On February 1, 1947 Tom’s father Henry “Hal” McCall died at age 60 on his ranch, near Redmond.

    In May 1947 William Moyes, “Behind The Mike” columnist wrote: “McCall has done a keen job for KEX in packing things into a neat lucid package on his news program. He has one of the most interesting voices in radio. ABC is missing a bet if it doesn’t pick up his newscast to all its coast stations, especially since night time newscasts are its competitors’ weak spots.” On June 3, 1947 McCall was elected to the Portland Symphony Board of Directors. By May 1948 the McCall family was living at: 2304 S.W. Mitchell St.

    On September 27, 1948 “Lawson McCall with The News” moved to weekday mornings at 7:00am on KEX. On April 25, 1949 Tom & Audrey welcomed their second son Samuel Walker “Sam” McCall, III. On April 3, 1949 it was announced Lawson McCall was Secretary of the Urban League Board of Directors. By May 1949 McCall was given the title: KEX News Editor. On June 9, 1949 Lawson McCall left KEX to become Administrative Assistant to Governor, Douglas McKay. At the Capitol Tom became Secretary of the Governor’s State Council on Indian Affairs and McCall was on the State Committee on Natural Resources which was created in 1951.

    On January 8, 1952 Tom returned to radio as T. Lawson McCall, or Tom Lawson McCall as he was then known and was given the title: KGW News Commentator, heard on two 15 minute broadcasts at 5:30pm & 11:15pm. On October 3, 1953 McCall began as a regular panelist on the new KPTV channel 27 quiz show “Treasure Hunt” Saturdays at 6:30pm. On February 6, 1954 Tom Lawson McCall became a candidate for the Republican nomination – 3rd District Representative in Congress. On June 5, 1954 McCall won the nomination but lost the election 11-4-54.

    On November 11, 1954 Tom resumed his position as KGW Radio News Commentator except with a shorter name: Tom McCall. He was heard on a 15 minute broadcast weekdays at 5:00pm. On January 28, 1955 it was announced Tom Lawson McCall was the first newsman to receive a press card under the new legislative rule for accredited Radio and TV representatives. It was also reported Tom was doing a weekly interview with Oregon Governor, Paul Patterson on KOAC Radio, Corvallis, Friday nights at 7:30pm.

    On January 30, 1955 McCall began a Sunday commentary-interview program on KUGN Radio, Eugene. On February 7, 1955 Tom’s KGW Radio newscast was moved to weekday mornings at 7:15am. On March 27, 1955 KLOR channel 12 presented Lawson McCall as host of the panel show “There Oughta’ Be A Law” Sunday’s at 3:30pm for a half hour of legislative problems. On May 10, 1955 McCall did his last morning newscast at 7:15am on KGW Radio. Maybe the radio station didn’t like Tom being on television. On May 15, 1955 the last “There Oughta’ Be A Law” show aired on KLOR (TV).

    On July 11, 1955 Tom began two newscasts weekday mornings on KGW Radio from 7:00 to 7:05am & 7:30 to 7:45am. On January 10, 1956 KPTV channel 27 “Newsroom” debuted at 6:00pm with Ivan Smith, news; Lawson McCall, commentary; Hal Childs, sports; Gene Brendler, weather & host. On January 22, 1956 McCall began the KPTV Sunday interview program “Newsmaker of The Week” at 6:15pm.

    On February 10, 1956 Tom announced he would receive the prospective nomination endorsement for Oregon Governor on KGW Radio’s “The Editor Speaks” on Monday Feb 13th at 5:25pm. On Feb 12th KGW President, Gordon Orput, pulled the plug on the whole idea. On April 20, 1956 McCall did his last morning newscasts on KGW Radio. On April 30, 1956 Tom began a KGW Radio weeknight newscast at 6:00pm. On August 28, 1956 McCall’s Newscast moved to 5:45pm on KGW Radio.

    On November 24, 1956 it was announced Tom McCall was appointed News Commentator of the forthcoming KGW-TV. On December 6, 1956 Tom’s Newscast moved to 6:15pm on KGW Radio. On December 16, 1956 Tom McCall narrated “Salute To Portland”, a 30 minute color film broadcast on the new KGW-TV. Tom was part of the “Newsbeat” team when the program debuted on December 17th. at 6:30pm and McCall continued on KGW Radio.

    On February 8, 1957 Tom McCall began as news analyst on the KGW-TV program “Viewpoint” Fridays at 7:00pm for 30 minutes. Tom built “Viewpoint” using controversial subjects. On June 24, 1957 saw the debut of “News Profile with Tom McCall.” The 15 minute Profile was a similar program on KGW Radio weeknights at 10:00pm sponsored by Trailways. By November 1957 the McCall family was living at: 1414 S.W. Upland Drive. On January 5, 1958 Tom’s “Viewpoint” program moved to Sunday’s at 6:30pm on KGW-TV. On March 31, 1959 the last “News Profile with Tom McCall” was broadcast. KGW Radio would change its format the following day to Rock & Roll.

    On April 20, 1959 the special “Farewell To Celilo” was presented in prime time Monday at 8:00pm on KGW-TV. Tom McCall narrated the presentation of ceremonies connected on the death of Chief Tommy Thompson. The Film opened with 1956 fishing at Celilo Falls before construction of The Dalles Dam. On April 26, 1959 the program “Viewpoint” repeated “Farewell To Celilo” Sunday at 3:30pm after many viewers had written.

    On October 2, 1959 the Oregon Legislative Interim Committee on Labor-Management Relations employed Tom McCall to draft the report it would submit to the 1961 session of the Legislature. On November 19, 1959 Tom McCall won the 1959 Beaver Award for top achievement in conservation of natural resources, in the Radio-Television field. On November 22, 1960 KGW-TV’s “Telescope” program weekday mornings 8:00am to 9:00am began rotating co-hosts with Konnie Worth. Tuesdays featured Tom McCall as co-host until January 24, 1961.

    By January 1961 Tom McCall was Vice Chairman of the Metropolitan Youth Commission. On May 7, 1961 the audio portion of McCall’s “Viewpoint” TV program was now heard on KGW Radio in a rebroadcast Sunday nights at 9:00pm. KGW Radio had returned to its Middle of the Road music format. By January 1962 Tom McCall was Chairman of the Metropolitan Youth Commission. On June 3, 1962 the last “Viewpoint” program was rebroadcast on KGW Radio. The televised version continued.

    On November 21, 1962 KGW-TV presented an ambitious documentary titled “Pollution in Paradise”, which graphically portrayed the poor condition of the Willamette River and air quality throughout Oregon. The hour long documentary was seen in prime time Wednesday night at 9:00pm, narrated by Tom McCall & Richard Ross. Co-written by Tom McCall and KING-TV’s Bob Shulman. On January 13, 1963 “Pollution in Paradise” was shown again Sunday night at 6:00pm after many viewer requests.

    On April 10, 1963 it was announced “Pollution in Paradise” had won the Sigma Delta Chi citation for distinguished public service in television journalism. On May 11, 1963 the Sigma Delta Chi award was presented in Dallas, Texas. On February 15, 1964 Tom decided he would file to run for Secretary of State but did not announce officially. On February 26, 1964 Tom McCall announced his candidacy for Secretary of State. On August 8, 1964 Tom was Grand Marshal of the Deschutes County Fair in Redmond. On August 9, 1964 Tom took a “leave of absence” from the “Newsbeat” team and his “Viewpoint” program.

    On November 2, 1964 Tom McCall won the election for Secretary of State. On January 16, 1966 McCall won the Republican candidacy for Governor. On July 16, 1966 Tom was Grand Marshal of the Dory Derby Parade in Pacific City. On November 8, 1966 Tom McCall won the election for Oregon Governor. On October 26, 1968 Tom was Grand Marshal of the Oregon State 100th Anniversary Parade in Corvallis. On June 19, 1970 Tom as Grand Marshal of the Phil Sheridan Days Parade in Sheridan.

    Between August 28th to September 3, 1970 McCall did something no Governor had even thought about. Hold a rock festival! “Vortex I: A Biodegradable Festival of Life.” After attempting to convince the People’s Army Jamboree to either not carry out their plans or to move the date, Tom decided to hold a rock festival.

    “I think I just committed political suicide,” McCall was reported to have remarked immediately after approving the event. The festival, nicknamed “The Governor’s Pot Party” by Oregonian’s, was a success, attracting between 50,000 and 100,000 people. Vortex was the first and so far only state-sponsored rock festival in U.S. history. On November 3, 1970 Tom McCall was re-elected Oregon Governor. [Oregonian headline: McCall Steamrollers Straub].

    On January 12, 1971 CBS News featured Tom McCall in a piece where he said “Come visit us again and again. This is a state of excitement. But for heaven’s sake, don’t come here to live.” This caused many viewers across the nation to write. There were almost 150 complimentary letters: Lois J. Stollar of Knoxville, Tenn. said: “I want to tell you how refreshing it was to learn that there is a politician in this country who has his priorities straight.” Only three or four letters complained.

    On July 24, 1973 Governor McCall was at Salem General Hospital having his prostate removed because of a small malignancy. “It wasn’t as easy as some,” Dr. Clarence V. Hodges said. “He’s such a big man, and this area is not as accessible as in a smaller person.” Governor McCall is 6 feet 5 1/2 inches tall, and he dwarfed the operating table Dr. Hodges chuckled. “He hung over both ends.”

    On August 20, 1973 McCall was back at Salem General Hospital to have his right testicle and a section of his epididymis removed after an infection, following his July 24th operation. On January 13, 1975 Tom McCall left the Governor’s office. Tom said in 1971 “Keep Oregon a quality part of the world is what being Governor and legislators is all about.”

    McCall’s two terms as Oregon Governor were notable for many achievements in the environmental sphere, including the country’s first “bottle bill” in 1971, the cleanup of the Willamette River, passage of a law to maintain former Gov. Oswald West’s legacy of public ownership of the state’s beaches, and the first statewide land-use planning system, which introduced the urban growth boundary around the state’s cities. These achievements did much to create McCall’s enormous legacy in the state.

    On September 11, 1975 Tom returned to broadcasting, as News Analyst for KATU. On February 19, 1979 Tom’s brother Samuel Walker McCall, II died at age 59 in Bakersfield, Calif. On April 29, 1981 McCall was at Good Samaritan Hospital having his left remaining testicle removed to control and hopefully cure a small recurrence of prostate cancer. On April 2, 1982 Tom’s mother Dorothy Lawson McCall died at age 93 in Portland.

    On August 3, 1982 Tom McCall was back at Good Samaritan Hospital after experiencing dizzy spells. On August 5, 1982 McCall was told his 1973 cancer was back, having spread from his spine to his ribs and skull. Tom was a little “shocked.” On August 6, 1982 McCall left Good Samaritan Hospital for home with spirits high despite the news. His doctor said to “slow down, but that’s like chasing the wind,” he said. McCall continued his KATU commentaries.

    On September 8, 1982 KATU presented the primetime special “A Nice Place To Visit…The Legacy of Tom McCall” for one hour Wednesday at 8:00pm hosted by Paul Hanson & Bill Weaver. On October 21, 1982 McCall returned home from speaking engagements, tired from his terminal cancer. Family and doctors had urged him to slow down. “I gotta. I feel terrible,” Tom admitted.

    On December 15, 1982 Tom fell while at Good Samaritan Hospital and underwent surgery to relieve effects of a large hematoma suffered from the fall. After surgery McCall developed pneumonia and was in intensive care. On December 25, 1982 Tom was reported to be “much improved.” On January 6, 1983 OPB’s “Front Street Weekly” recorded TV program ran a special interview with Tom McCall at 8:30pm. Two days later…

    On January 8, 1983 Tom McCall passed away at age 69. On January 11, 1983 A funeral procession bearing his casket, accompanied by family members, departed from Finley’s Sunset Hill Memorial Park & Mortuary at 2:30pm, arrived in Salem at 4:30pm. His body lied in state in the Capitol Rotunda for 24 hours beginning at 5:00pm, attended by an honor guard from the Oregon State Police. The Capitol was open for public visitation continuously for 24 hours. Among dignitaries were four former state governors attending. McCall’s casket was made from Central Oregon Ponderosa pine, where Tom grew up. Many reached out to touch the natural pine finish.

    On January 12, 1983 the public was invited to the State funeral, conducted at 7:00pm but seating filled fast and many were turned away including the son of a former Governor, a Federal Judge & Supreme Court Justice. So many came, there was a crowd on the Capitol steps. The casket was brought into the House chamber, while the Oregon National Guard Reserve Bagpipe Band played “Amazing Grace.” Flag bearers were Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. McCall had asked for the bagpipe band, as well as Bruce Kelly’s New Oregon Singers, and had specified the songs. He asked that they sing: “Battle Hymn of The Republic,” “Oregon, My Oregon” (the state song), “America The Beautiful” and “What The World Needs Now Is Love.”

    Live television coverage began at 7:00pm with KATU acting as the “pool’ station with six cameras feeding KOIN & KGW Portland, KTVZ Bend, KVAL & KMTR Eugene, KOBI Medford & KOTI Klamath Falls. KPTV delayed their broadcast to 10:30pm. OEPBS telecast was at 10:00pm, feeding KOAP-TV Portland, KOAC Corvallis, KVDO Salem & KTVR La Grande.

    On January 13, 1983 A public graveside service was held at Redmond Memorial Cemetery in Redmond at 1:00pm. 300 attended the military burial where three jets from the Air National Guard flew in formation over the cemetery three times. Members of the American Legion post carried the colors. Oregon State Police officers bore the casket to the grave and presented the folded flag to the family. As they did so National Guardsmen fired an 18-gun salute and two buglers sounded taps in a sequence that created an echo effect. The haunting sounds visibly moved many in the crowd, including the family. A spray of juniper was placed on the casket and then Audrey McCall was escorted away.

    Sen. Albert Bauer
    “Tom McCall was a tall man, and for every inch of height he had an equal amount of integrity.”

    Oregonian staff
    “He was a mood-setter, a wordsmith who told the nation that it should cleanse its air, purify its water and protect its land.”

    Tom McCall
    “Oregon is demure and lovely, and it ought to play a little hard to get. It would sicken me, to find that She is nothing but a hungry hussy, throwing herself at every stinking smokestack that’s offered.”

    Bill Naito
    “Oregon’s livability is Tom McCall’s legacy to the present generation and to the future.”

    Special Thanks to Joel Miller who helped make this biography more complete.

    References: Billboard magazine, CBS News, The Oregonian, Wikipedia.


    “On January 13, 1975 Tom McCall left the Governor’s office after being defeated by Bob Straub.” I can’t find it anywhere but Wikipedia but I’m sure it’s true: “McCall was barred by the state constitution from seeking a third consecutive term in the 1974 election.” Wikipedia indicates that Straub defeated Vic Atiyeh.


    Yes I was sucked into thinking that, after reading McCall’s mother wanted to punch Straub in the eye for taking over the governorship. Kind of an interesting statement.


    I remember her being a feisty lady!

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