'Doc' McCue dies at 82
Credit: University of Virginia Media Relations
Dr. Frank McCue, who led the sports medicine program at the University of Virginia for decades, passed away on Sunday at the age of 82.
By: JERRY RATCLIFFE | Daily Progress
Published: July 08, 2012
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One of the most beloved individuals in University of Virginia history, Dr. Frank C. McCue III, passed away Sunday at the age of 82.
Known simply to most as “Doc,” McCue directed the UVa sports medicine program for more than 40 years. He was a pioneer in orthopedic surgery and once considered the leading hand surgeon in the nation, often attracting some of the biggest names in professional sports to his care.
Not only did McCue, the Cavaliers’ team physician, and his longtime sidekick Joe Gieck, take care of UVa athletes but also donated their time to treat athletes from other universities around the state as well as injured high school athletes.
“No one loved the University of Virginia more, nor has anyone done more to contribute to the welfare of citizens across the Commonwealth than Frank McCue,” said Virginia athletics director Craig Littlepage. “When I think about people that truly made a difference in the welfare of others, Dr. McCue will be at the top of my list. It is hard to estimate the number of patients he served, the number of aspiring doctors and trainers he mentored or the number of hours he volunteered during his career.”
McCue served as surgeon for not only UVa but the University of Richmond, William & Mary and VMI athletics programs prior to those institutions having their own doctors.
In 1998, the McCue Society was created in his honor and annually provided numerous scholarships in the field of Sports Medicine to both graduates and undergraduates at the June dinner.
It was at the dinner three years ago when former UVa basketball player and head coach Jeff Jones gave an inside perspective on what Dr. McCue meant to student-athletes and coaches alike. Jones was fired as the Cavaliers’ coach in 1998 and referenced that period of his life in a personal story about McCue.
“April 6, 1998, wasn’t the best day or month for me,” Jones told those attending the McCue Society dinner. “It was a tough time, but often in difficult times, things are revealed that make a meaningful impact that sticks with you a long time. I received a letter from Dr. McCue, that I still have.”
Noting that, Jones pulled the letter from his pocket and read it aloud to the crowd.
“Many people have come and gone in the athletic department and the athletes are part of my family,” McCue wrote Jones. “I really think of you as another son. If I can ever do anything for you and yours, just let me know.”
Jones said he has kept the letter over the years because McCue was always special to him and always will be.
“Thousands of lives have been touched in a positive way by Dr. Frank McCue,” Jones said.
McCue was a native of Maxwelton, W.Va., and attended Greenbrier Military School in Lewisburg, before receiving his bachelor’s and medical degrees from UVa in 1952 and 1956. He completed his residency training in orthopedic surgery at UVa and a two-year fellowship in surgery of the hand with Drs. Joseph Boyes, James Wilson and Herbert Stark in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California.
He returned to UVa in 1961 and joined the School of Medicine faculty as an instructor in orthopedic surgery. He was named a full professor of orthopedic surgery in 1974.
McCue retired in 2003 and was named Professor Emeritus of Orthopedics at UVa hospital and because of his love and dedication to Cavalier football, he became the first inductee to the Order of the Crossed Sabres, which is the Virginia Football Alumni Club’s most prestigious honor.
The Virginia High School Coaches Association, in appreciation of the work that McCue volunteered for decades, annually presents a sports medicine award in his name.
McCue loved his “fellows,” that would join colleagues, athletic trainers, students, coaches and friends each summer for the McCue Society conference where the good doctor would always hold court.
Even this past June, with health conditions presenting him discomfort, McCue managed to attend the dinner and shared his thoughts with those in attendance.
The McCue Center, which is UVa’s primary athletics support building and also houses sports medicine and the Cavaliers’ football program, is named in his honor.
“Frank McCue represented the values that make the University of Virginia great,” said UVa president Teresa A. Sullivan. “He was selfless, dedicated, professional and always ready to serve the University he so loved. His presence will be greatly missed and his contributions simply cannot be overstated.”
Littlepage perhaps said it best with his final thought on McCue.
“He’ll be missed and there will never be another like him,” Littlepage said.