Royal Tribute Memorials

Art McCall (Teacher)

Art McCall (Teacher)

Mr. Art McCall passed away on July 30, 2019. 

The Celebration of Life Service for Arthur McCall will be held on Saturday, August 10th at the Chichester United Wesleyan Church, 5151 Chichester Avenue, Aston, PA 19014. The greeting will begin at 9:00 AM with a slide presentation and music, followed by the service at 10:00 AM. The service will include an open mic for those who would like to share stories or thoughts about Art.


Some memories of Mr. McCall: 

Sports Flashback: Upper Darby wrestling coach Art McCall mentors kids on and off the mat

By Rich Pagano CORRESPONDENT April 10, 2015

Besides teaching and his success as a wrestling coach, Art McCall contributed so much to the Upper Darby School District as the Dean of Boys, Assistant Principal and President of the teachers union.

Art McCall was constantly mentoring wrestlers all over the tristate area and also taking kids to tournaments, clinics, and meets across the country. However, after working with a few wrestlers from Conestoga, he began coaching there as an assistant.

After three years, he became the Pioneers’ head coach, and as always, success followed. During his six years at Conestoga, the Pioneers captured five team titles (league, sectional and Christmas tournament). He produced three district champions, sent three wrestlers to states and had a regional and state runner-up.

“I had a group of wrestlers I called the ‘Fab Four,’” recalled McCall. “All four went to states. Billy Brown from Conestoga was a regional champ. Peter Hibberd was third in sections and not only won districts but was second in the outstanding wrestler balloting and finished second in regionals. Upper Darby’s Dan Luckshire was second in regionals and a state qualifier, and Billy Furber of Lower Merion was third in regionals and a state qualifier.”

He also worked with numerous wrestlers at Pequey Valley and Manheim in Lancaster besides mentoring wrestlers at Germantown Academy for seven years.

“My last stop on my coaching journey was Ursinus College,” remembered McCall. “What a blessing. It was such a tradition, and I enjoyed anything I could add to their program.”

McCall was also president of the District I Coaches Association, served 40 years on the District I Steering Committee, and was the rules interpreter for District I. He served on the joint committee which started wrestling in the Philadelphia schools in 1968. At that time, he also had his proposal accepted to change the “out of bounds” rule in wrestling which is still in place today, although it has been expanded, but the principle is the same. He even was the head timer at the Division I Wrestling tournament in 1984.

Art McCall was more than just an outstanding coach and teacher in the business department at Upper Darby High School, he also attempted to solve some problems and take a stand when needed at the school. Cafeteria duty was one of many problems he encountered.

“Cafeteria duty at Upper Darby was closer to living in ‘Animal House,’” said McCall. “The school was losing thousands of dollars in dishes and silverware when the students would clear their tables and just throw everything in the trash.”

Getting an article (entitled “Bay of Pigs”) in the school newspaper about the problem got the administration’s attention. McCall explained, “They asked me what I needed, and I was able to handpick a staff and keep them on duty, while I patrolled the entire area and dealt with the discipline. It was an instant success.”

The students had accepted the challenge and made good, and they were proud. There were even articles and pictures in the school newspaper showing the kids who brought in table cloths and candles.

McCall also reached out to the gangs in the school. He tried to point out the similarities of both frats and gangs and how they served the same functions. At the time, there was no patrol staff to help, and it was just he and a button on his phone to connect to police headquarters.

“This may be a strange way to measure the progress,” recalled McCall, “but one Christmas Eve there was a terrible snow storm, and four of the ‘Rejected Souls” gang members were outside my apartment singing Christmas carols. I had reached them.”

His over whelming success with the cafeteria was a stepping stone to becoming the Dean of Boys (Assistant Principal). The following year, Upper Darby had lost the person in the Dean of Boys position when he had a complete breakdown and was hospitalized after only a few months on the job.

McCall was asked to take the job with no experience and no certification. He accepted, and for four years, he did not have a single appeal or complaint from teachers, students or parents, and that is why he was allowed to coach and be an assistant principal.

While in that position, McCall befriended a school board member, Admiral Icenhower, who was the father of one of his wrestlers, and with his help he got a secretary, another truant officer, more “psych” time and more social worker time.

He also made the announcement that there were drugs in the school and it was a problem to address. “This would grow into the first ‘drug symposium’ in the country if not the state,” remembered McCall. “I was the first speaker at a packed house at Beverly Hills. By the end of the school year, we had procedures and steps to take if a teacher thought there was a problem.”

At the end of his four years as assistant principal, Upper Darby High School was a better place, brought about by a lot of changes in the discipline policy which made the system work and the development of a nice set of drug programs and procedures. McCall’s attitude toward the gangs also played a part in the fact that there were no gang fights during his tenure.

However, right around the corner was quite possibly his biggest challenge, when he became the president of the teacher’s union.

Again, the experience was rewarding with much accomplishment and success at a time when the reorganization of the district schools was the largest crisis to ever face Upper Darby. Emphasizing interaction and communication, his efforts with many others was the basis for the structure of the schools as they are today.

For McCall, there have been many awards, but the best awards are those former wrestlers and students who remembered him as the most influential and important person in their life. One such student, Chris Carr, who McCall would take to camps and clinics, found himself without a home. “He came to live with my family,” explained McCall. “He was a blessing to have around.”

The Art McCall story started with a door that had been opened for him, and he has always requested to have you think of whether there might be a door you can open for someone else in life. “You don’t have to be a coach or teacher,” said McCall. “My first door was opened by a neighbor. Think about someone you could help.”

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08/02/19 10:18 PM #1    

Patte Marshall (Michel)

Art McCall came to all our reunions as well as reunions from other classes.  At the 40th reunion, I offered him a personalized name tag and he advised me that he had his own laminated name tag.  Always prepared - 

08/03/19 09:00 AM #2    

Sybil Vernon

Art McCall was a 'one of a kind', like his dear friend, Vern Hilbert.  Such fond memories of both of them in and out of school.  He was 'jolly', so passionate about his students, always wanting to make things better.  

My memories extend far beyond high school, in contact with both Mr. McCall and Mr. Hilbert, through and past our 45th reunion.  Mr. McMcall andMr. Hilbert, wll always and forever be in me...a part of my life!


08/08/19 11:57 PM #3    

Sharon E. Gray (Reed)

Art was my homeroom teacher and mentor.  When I returned to this area in 1997 after a divorce, I was hired as a sub for Jerry Roma (Spanish teacher) who was out sick with throat cancer, and wound up teaching his classes in my old homeroom, right across the hall from my locker.  Some things never change.  The building, at least on that part, looked the same and there were the same warm feelings I had for three years in that room with Art.  What a great man!

08/09/19 09:58 PM #4    

Mark S. Juliano

I never really talked with Art much until senior year..., When I started getting all political about stuff like Earth Day, and wearing jeans to school, and smoking in the boys room and blacks in the class going to the post prom, OK?....So, when he 'called me down' for the very 1st time, I was really shitting myself  wondering what he was going to nail me with...?!? Maybe about NOT going out for the wrestling team like my brother did...?!?

          But actually, he didn't talk about any of those things....We just talked about other stuff..., like Nam, the draft, college, the future and my family....And he just wanted me to know that his door was always open, and how I could find him even after school for, whatever...!?!

          Cause that's the kinda guy Art was....I wouldn't be surprised to hear he had those talks with a few of us....He taught us more about life and how to live it....And somehow, school stuff somehow became part of the message too....Learned much more from him than I did from most of my teachers....But moreover, it was all about just growing up, and doing the right thing whenever the cookies crumbled..., because sooner or later..., they always did ~


          Thanks Art....Thanks for everything !


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