Port Neches’ McCall to retire from the bench

PORT NECHES — Morris McCall loves his city of Port Neches but is quick to brag on the town he grew up in.

“I was born in Diboll, where the Lord has a summer home,” McCall said.

McCall, who has served as the municipal court judge for Port Neches, will officially retire from the bench April 1 after 41 years of service. A reception will be held in his honor at 2:30 p.m. Friday in the courtroom.

McCall is a proud 1954 graduate of the University of Texas and has worked in labor law and benefits for Ameripol Synpol as well as working as a tax attorney for the city of Beaumont before he began working in Port Neches. But it’s his commitment to the city and community of Port Neches and jovial personality that’s endeared him many.

“I just love him. He’s like my grandfather,” Debbie Plaia, executive director of the Port Neches Chamber of Commerce, said. “I’ve learned a lot of things from that man.”

When Plaia came on board as director at the chamber, McCall took her under his wing.

“He makes you look at things in a whole different way. He just lets things roll off,” she said. “He has such a positive outlook on everything and is such a role model.”

McCall has long been involved with the chamber and helped organize the annual Easter Sunrise Service held at the pavilion at Port Neches Riverfront Park as well as various once popular/now-defunct Pow Wow Festival and Rotary events.

“He is absolutely the kindest man,” she said. “We call him Mr. Port Neches.”

McCall adheres to a strict routine. He checks in at the police department to see if he needs to oversee arraignments and takes care of those, goes by his church, First United Methodist Church in Port Neches and visits the chamber.

“He comes by every morning,” Port Neches Police Chief Paul Lemoine said. “He comes through, gets some coffee and checks with Bertha Martinez (deputy court clerk), then goes by the county jail.”

When dealing with a juvenile offender, McCall lends some words of advice.

“He will give a lecture every time at the bench, as long as your face is turned sideways in your drivers license (juvenile). Take care of your business. I don’t want to see you in this court again,” Lemoine said.

McCall, he said, has been a fixture in the city for many years and the only municipal court judge in Port Neches that Lemoine has known.

“He’s always involved in the community — Chamber events, the Easter Sunrise Service. He always is the one to organize the annual Christmas Parade in December. He stays busy,” he said.

Bertha Martinez, who has worked with McCall for 21 years, said she is going to miss him but plans to keep in touch.

“He’s been like a daddy to me. He’s a sweetheart,” Martinez said.

Martinez is used to seeing McCall Monday through Friday with court in session on Wednesdays. He also makes routine calls up to the court as part of his job.

“He’s always there anytime we need something,” she said. “We will most definitively keep in touch. He and his wife are like family to me. We couldn’t have asked for a better judge for all these years.”

From his office inside the police department/court, McCall spoke about his life and his love.

When McCall was a young man he used to go to square dances “behind the Presbyterian Church.”

“I met a black haired gal named Dorothy. A couple of months later I asked her to marry me,” McCall said. “That was 60 years ago.”

The McCall’s had two children; a son and a daughter, and have four grandchildren, he said.

McCall enjoys working in his yard.

“I have two riding mowers,” he said, adding that his wife has a garden. “She’s my everything.”

McCall doesn’t plan on leaving the community or the home he’s lived in for many years.

“I’ve had a good life,” he said.

E-mail: mary.meaux@panews.com

Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews

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