In Memory of a Class Act

It was the late 1960’s when I got to see David McCallum (be still my teenaged heart) in person in Minneapolis, MN – close enough to get this photo of him.

Fresh off his success as Illya Kuryakin in the popular TV series, The Man from Uncle, McCallum was the featured guest speaker at a national conference for volunteers (like myself) who worked with children with Down Syndrome and other intellectual and developmental disabilities. The conference was hosted by the organization now known as The Arc, and McCallum was their national spokesperson then.

I was one of several members representing YOUTH PARC: Youth Organized and United To Help the Pennsylvania Arc at this conference. Besides networking with other youth Arc volunteers throughout the U.S., the main draw was hearing this celebrity share his passion for helping the children we served.

Sadly, David McCallum passed away a few days ago. Well known for his roles in The Man from Uncle and in NCIS (as pathologist “Ducky” Mallard), among other roles in movies and TV shows, I don’t know how many others knew this side of him.

His online obituaries acknowledge this man as a talented actor, musician, renaissance man, family man, and gentleman. These tributes reinforce the wonderful man that I first met at that youth conference decades ago.

I didn’t see an actor who was full of himself. Instead, I saw a kind-hearted man who sincerely advocated for children with developmental disabilities. He was also most genuine and approachable. While you can’t see it from the cropped photo above, McCallum didn’t speak from the podium. Instead, he sat at the end of the stage with Kenny Robinson, president of the YOUTH Arc, to address the audience. I’ve treasured this beautiful memory ever since.

Thank you, David McCallum. You were a class act.

Rest in peace.

[Photo by Sybil F. Stershic]

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