Cambria farmer Anthony Jackson “Jack” McCall passed away peacefully early Saturday, Dec. 26, with his family by his side at a San Luis Obispo hospital.
McCall, 69, who had fought a rare form of lymphoma for eight years, died following a massive stroke.
A celebration of his life will be held from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9, at the Veterans Memorial Building. A “cold potluck” meal will follow. For inquiries or donations, call 927-5548.
McCall participated in area farmers markets for about a quarter-century — including the original Cambria market beside what was then Bank of America.
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At the markets, McCall was easy to spot. His sincere, radiant smile was like a magnet for many, whether they needed avocados, oranges or an uplifting conversation.
His sudden death was the topic of the day at the more somber Jan. 1 market, as longtime colleagues, friends and family members struggled, mourning and sharing their grief and memories.
McCall was born in Los Angeles in 1946 to parents Paul and Marcy McCall. Their son was a talented surfer, bowler and an especially good baseball player.
Among his nearly lifelong friends are Greg Sanders, John Linn and Michael Broadhurst, also now Cambria residents, and Bryce Fisher, formerly of Cambria.
Sanders and McCall “grew up in Buena Park,” the former recalled recently. They lived “around the corner from each other.”
“We first met when I was in the third grade, he in the fourth. We played Little League, Pony League and Colt League baseball — he very well, me not so well.
“Wherever he went, Jack always had a baseball mitt with him.”
McCall graduated from the U.S. Army Officer Candidate School and served in Vietnam in the dangerous assignment of artillery forward observer in the 101st Airborne Division.
When he left the service, he was a first lieutenant. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Distinguished Flying Cross.
McCall moved to Cambria in 1972 and married his soulmate, Teri Wilson, on the property that is now McCall’s Farm on Santa Rosa Creek Road. Among the attendees were John and Renee Linn, who soon thereafter decided to buy property nearby, land that is now Linn’s Fruit Bin.
The McCalls had three children, who were raised on the farm.
Jack McCall worked for the U.S. Postal Service for nearly two decades, starting in the early 1980s, all the while working on the 22-acre farm he loved.
Having studied agriculture at Cal Poly, he began planting fruit trees. He fell in love with farming, carpentry and the community, and soon was a leader for Cambria avocado growers.
Jack McCall coached baseball, led Cub Scouts and donated produce liberally to food outreach programs, as well as to customers he suspected were short on cash.
Whenever he could, McCall surfed. He loved taking surfing trips to Baja with family and friends and was known in his circle of friends as the “emperor” of Arroyo Laguna.
According to remembrances written by family and friends, McCall “wore his heart on his sleeve and embodied the love, laughter and informal intimacy of the ’60s. He neither judged or had concern of being judged.” He was “incredibly spiritual with an unwavering faith in Christ.”
McCall is survived by wife Teri, daughter Maggie, sons David and Paul, and two grandsons Noa and Wyatt.