Generations of Fort Mill students and educators lost a friend and mentor last Wednesday when Harold McRae "Mac" McCallum died.
"As his son's friend, I was over at his house a lot growing up," Fort Mill School District Assistant Superintendent Chuck Epps said. "He was just like another father to me."
McCallum, who was 88, had been a resident of Park Point Village in Rock Hill for the past eight years. He and his wife Pheobe touched generations of Fort Mill Students, including Epps. A young Epps watched Neil Armstrong put the first set of human footprints on the moon in McCallum's living room. Later McCallum gave Epps his first teaching job.
"I was late the first day," Epps recalled. "He looked at me and said, 'We can't have this,' and I said 'Yes, sir.' I haven't been late many times since then."
Long before the advent of career clusters at Fort Mill High School, McCallum was teaching courses in agriculture, preparing students to enter the largely agrarian and textile-based economy of the time.
During his career, McCallum was president of the York County Education Association, president of the S.C. Agriculture Teachers Association, president of the S.C. Vocational Teachers Association and a parliamentarian and member of the board of directors of the S.C. Education Association.
"I think Mac helped a lot of kids that weren't going to college through his agriculture course," Epps said. "He turned a lot of people around and got them going in the right direction."
A native of Camden, McCallum spent 28 years as a teacher and administrator in the Fort Mill School District following a stint in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. He graduated from Berry College in Rome, Ga., in 1940 and received a master's degree from the University of South Carolina in 1952.
At one time, McCallum was one of the most active members of the Fort Mill community, serving as president of the Fort Mill Optimist Club, president of the Rock Hill Toastmasters Club, and secretary of the Fort Mill Chamber of Commerce for 10 years.
He was honored as Fort Mill Teacher of the Year, Fort Mill Man of the Year, Civic Volunteer of the Year, Optimist of the Year, and a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow.
One of McCallum's good friends, Bill Stroup, remembers the early days of the Fort Mill Chamber and United Way, both of which they had a hand in creating.
"Everybody liked him," Stroup said. "There's a lot of people that know a lot about Mac because he was involved in everything."
The Stroups and McCallums got to be good friends over the half century they knew each other, eating out together weekly and even traveling together.
"He was a great person to travel with," Stroup said. "He always had a joke and made people laugh."
McCallum's influence will live on in the lives of those he touched, and through two $500 scholarships awarded to Fort Mill students heading to college in technical fields each year.
"He turned a lot of people around and got them going in the right direction."
former student who became a teacher and administrator