Davy Henderson McCall died peacefully Sunday, December 1, 2019 at his home at Heron Point in Chestertown, Md. where he had resided for many years. He was 97. Born on June 30, 1922 in Cleveland, Oh., he was the son of James Henderson and Rachel Jane (Kennedy) McCall.
Davy McCall will always be remembered for his engaging style and tremendous intellect. He arrived at Washington College in 1984 with the arrival of Douglas Cater as college president.
McCall taught economics and would later chair the department, but his influence was felt much further than the classroom. McCall was active in helping Cater to expose students to contemporary political and economic policy thinkers. He was so beloved by the College that the Davy H. McCall Prize for International Economics was created in his honor.
“It was our good fortune that he chose Chestertown to retire,” commented former Washington College professor Daniel Premo, who worked with McCall in the International Studies program, recalling his generosity with his time and experience. “It was a real asset that the economics department to have a specialist in international economics to step in and teach a course even after his retirement, as well as taking on the role of acting department chair.”
“It was clear how much he enjoyed working with students and the students reciprocated in kind,” Premolar recalled.
Part of the “Greatest Generation,” McCall’s college years at Kenyon were interrupted by World War II. In an interview as part of a Washington College StoryQuest program on World War II veterans, McCall recalled the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor while at Kenyon, describing a campus rally and bonfire and that the campus emptied out the following day as students enlisted.
He was in the Army Reserves at the time. He would join active during in late 1942. Setting out on a medical and clerk track because of poor eyesight, the Army took to McCall’s 12 years of secondary school French, and assigned him to the language school at the University of Chicago, where he studied Chinese for two years. He served as a Mandarin translator during the occupation of Japan for the Allied Translator Interpreter Service.
He would receive A.B. in Economics, Kenyon, 1944; a Master of Arts, Harvard University, 1948; and a Doctor of Philosophy in Chinese and Economics, Harvard University, 1962.
After a short stint as an instructor at Case Western Reserve University, he moved to Washington to take a post as an international affairs officer for the Department of State from 1950 to 1953. He then join the Foreign Operations Administration, the predecessor of the U.S. Agency for International Development, as international economist. He was assigned to Phnom Penh, Cambodia from 1958 to 1960. He worked for the United States Bureau of Budget, now the Office of Budget and Management, from 1960 to 1965 before returning to the newly renamed United States Agency International Development, where he worked until 1984 with stints at the World Bank.
McCall took on leadership roles after his arrival in Chestertown, particularly focused on poverty and housing issues. He chaired the Chestertown Low Income Housing Fund, Chestertown, 1986—1991, and the Episcopal Diocese’s Low Income Housing Task Force, Easton, 1986—1988.
McCall was also active in historic preservation. He served as Vice President of Preservation, Incorporated. He would undertake three substantive historic preservation project. His first was the Hodges-Bar Farm, an eighteenth century residence built on the Hinghingham property. The property was damaged by fire in the 1960s.
“Then he moved to Cannon Street and did two houses there,” recalled Preservation, Incorporated’s president Christian Havemayer. “He was one of the first home owners to fully research the rich history of free black business owners/residents in that part of Chestertown.”
“Davy was a wonderful man, extremely knowledgeable and self effacing,” Havemayer reflected. “He was instrumental in guiding the work of Preservation, Incorporated culminating in advocating for the rescue of Sumner Hall.”
McCall was a former chair of the Chestertown Historic District Commission on which he served from 1996-2005. He was active in the leadership of Heron Point. He served on the vestries of Old St. Paul’s and Emmanuel Church. He was a member of the Maryland Club in Baltimore and the DACOR Club in Washington.
No arrangements were announced by press time.