Francis Mackey; Doctor Was Fullerton ‘Fixture’
By Nancy Wride, March 22, 2001, Los Angeles Times
Francis G. Mackey, a Fullerton doctor for two generations who served as medical director of St. Jude Medical Center and wrote the book “Why Die of Colon Cancer?” after his own diagnosis, has died. He was 84.
“Fortunately, he got the book out before he died because it was a crusade for him,” said his wife of 58 years, June Mackey.
Mackey, better known as Bud, died Saturday of pneumonia related to his colon cancer, which was diagnosed three years ago and for which he underwent numerous treatments. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Fullerton United Methodist Church, where Mackey had been a tenor in the choir for nearly 50 years.
After ignoring his doctor’s suggestion to have routine tests for colon cancer, Mackey made it a cause–much like “Today” host Katie Couric, whose husband died of the disease at 42–to promote early detection that would save thousands of lives.
From diagnosis to chemotherapy, Mackey chronicled his experiences in the book, which he self-published at a cost of $57,000 because he feared he would die before he found an agent. He spoke at wellness forums and medical gatherings, preaching the value of tests like a colonoscopy for those over 50, which he believed would have saved his own life. He urged people to persist if their doctors initially discourage the tests, which can be costly.
Having lived in Fullerton 52 years, Mackey was well-known in town and made his marks in several arenas, from the hospital to his church, and among musicians, with whom he played Dixieland jazz on a clarinet, Renaissance music on a recorder and folk music on guitar.
“He’s been a fixture in Fullerton. He’s been here as long as dirt,” said Bill McAulay, owner of McAulay & Wallace Mortuary, which his grandfather founded in 1911.
Mackey was born in Warren, Ohio, on Jan. 21, 1917, and attended high school there. In 1943, he graduated from Ohio State University Medical School. He served in the Army Medical Corps during World War II.
In 1948, he moved to Fullerton and opened his internal medicine practice. In 1958 he was president of the Orange County Medical Assn. He sold his practice in 1971 to become medical director of St. Jude, where he remained until 1985, June Mackey said. In 1994, Mackey was named Physician of the Year by the county medical association and Distinguished Physician of the Year by St. Jude.
He was most proud of creating St. Jude’s Heart Institute, cardiac rehabilitation unit and its in-patient chemical dependency program. But in an autobiography he wrote for his family, his early years in medicine resonated most.
A family new to Fullerton had every member sick–thus they couldn’t care for each other. This was back when office visits were $5, and house calls $7.50. “There was nothing to do,” he wrote, “but roll up my sleeves and spend the night.”
Mackey was predeceased by son William Douglas Mackey.
Besides his wife, he is survived by daughter Jo Ann Hull, son-in-law David Hull and grandchildren Melinda Hull and Gregory Hull. He is also survived by William Ferguson, who was like a son, his wife, Mary, and their children, Matthew and Sean Ferguson.
Memorial donations may be made to the Music Associates at Fullerton United Methodist Church, 114 N. Pomona Ave., Fullerton, CA 92832.
NOTE: A few copies of Dr. Mackey's book are for sale on amazon.com