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Colusa County's Dr. McCarl retires after 62 years
Dr. Charles McCarl, whose fixation with health started as a teenager in Jack LaLanne's first gym in Oakland, has retired his practice after more than 60 years in Williams.
"He is a great man," said Colleen Manor, who has been McCarl's office assistant for 52 of his 62 years.
"He not only treated the patient, but he cared about their families," she said.
Health issues finally forced McCarl, 89, to stop seeing patients. He formally retired on Nov. 21. He was not available for an interview.
LaLanne is the reason McCarl is a physician.
"When I graduated from high school, he asked me what I was going to do now, and I said I didn't know what I was going to do," McCarl said in an interview in February, shortly after LaLanne's death.
"And he said, 'Well, I know what you are going to do — you are going to be a doctor,'" McCarl said.
While that put McCarl on his life's path, it is one on which through his own work he became an icon in Williams — and the greater health community of the region.
"I think he was a great asset to the medical community in Colusa County," said Dr. Lawrence Highman, who has been practicing medicine for more than 32 years in Colusa County.
"I think he will be missed," Highman added. "I don't think there is anyone who can replace him the way that he practices."
Some folks would call that being an old country doctor.
In fact, he never put a computer in his office.
Along with Manor, Sharon Brainard served as an assistant in the office for 40 years.
McCarl earned his medical degree from the California College of Medicine during World War II. He completed his residency in Long Beach, then established a practice in North Hollywood.
There, he was the physician to some of the movie stars, including the chimpanzee Cheetah of "Tarzan" fame, who came to McCarl's attention because local veterinarians did not properly diagnose the chimp's bronchitis, according to a biography on McCarl.
McCarl came to Williams in 1949 to fill in for a physician who had been called away on a family matter. That doctor never came back, and McCarl never left.
His office is filled with awards, proclamations and other forms of recognition for his service to his patients, the community and the medical profession.
He helped establish Valley West Convalescent Hospital in 1965, helped form and has been a member of the Kiwanis Club in Williams since 1952, the same year he started working with the Williams High sports programs.
He walked the sidelines right up through his retirement, and the stadium was dedicated in his name in October 2010.
It is ironic that it would be a football field that will forever carry his name.
As a high school student, he desperately wanted to play football, but was talked out of it by LaLanne, who himself had been injured playing football.
Instead, McCarl would play basketball.
His interest in health and fitness would grow along with his friendship with LaLanne, one that lasted more than 70 years.
McCarl and LaLanne actually had a balance and tumbling act they performed before McCarl went off to college. He also competed in the Mr. America bodybuilding competition in 1941.
McCarl had been the director of the Colusa Regional Medical Center clinics in Williams and Arbuckle, extended his practice into the Willows area, and served the communities of Maxwell and Arbuckle at times.