Former Standard-Examiner reporter and editor James Michael Call drowned on Tuesday in an accident in Kua Bay at North Kona, Hawaii.
Call, 52, known as “Mike” to his friends, co-workers and family, moved to Hawaii in September 2013 to work as a page designer and copy editor for West Hawaii Today. He worked for the Standard-Examiner as a reporter, copy editor and page designer from September 2006 until he left for Hawaii.
Standard-Examiner employees remember Call as a man who was passionate about his work and cared about others.
His sister, Colette Lofgren, said Call, who was older than her, “had a spark of life and humor. He was unusually kind.”
Call’s body was found floating in the waters of the bay about 100 yards from shore, which is located within the Kekaha Kai State Park, according to news stories. Bystanders had brought him to the shore and began performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation prior to the medics arriving.
Call was transported to Kona Community Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. No foul play is suspected, and an autopsy was ordered to determine the exact cause of death, according to Hawaii police.
Kim Perrin, of Ogden, one of Call’s friends and also a former Standard-Examiner employee, spent two weeks in Hawaii with Call earlier this year.
She said her favorite memories of Call include his talent of playing characters from his favorite plays.
While visiting him, Perrin said they were driving along the Queen Ka'ahumanu highway along the coast of Hawaii and they stopped at an overlook.
“The view looked exactly like a scene out of the ’Sound of Music,’ ” Perrin said. “I caught a picture of him playing the part of Julie Andrews while she sang ’The Hills are Alive.’ It was hilarious and a memory I will always treasure.”
Perrin said she, Call and Nancy Van Valkenburg, a co-worker at the Standard-Examiner, were “theater groupies. We used to hit all the plays between (Ogden) and Salt Lake City.”
Call knew most of the actors and considered them his close friends, Perrin said.
Lofgren and Perrin said Call loved to swim at that particular bay where he was found, because of the sea turtles.
Perrin said Call told her once, "In my next life, I want to be a sea turtle with a few hundred good beach reads."
Mark Saal, a reporter and columnist with the Standard-Examiner, said, “People talk about those who don’t have a mean bone in their body, Mike was one of those. He was not one to complain and there were times when the Standard-Examiner would drive you crazy, but Mike would go the extra mile. Mike Call was a good man. He was taken away too early.”
Van Valkenburg, Standard-Examiner entertainment editor, said many people are feeling the loss from Call’s death.
“He made friends easily,” Van Valkenburg said.
Vanessa Zimmer, Standard-Examiner presentation editor, said Call worked as a reporter and page designer for her for several years.
“He was very passionate about the theater and that came through in his stories and coverage of the theater beat,” Zimmer said.
Call received numerous awards for his writing. He also co-wrote two stage musicals with his sister, Lofgren, “Power in His Touch” and “Harriet.”
Lofgren said she and Call traveled to New York this past summer to see their play “Harriet” performed by a Broadway cast on 42nd Street as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival.
Call was born in Palo Alto, California, to John Reed and Feri Rose Call. The family moved to Holladay where Call attended Skyline High School and graduated from Brigham Young University, where he studied journalism. He served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He also had lived in Idaho and New York.
He worked for several newspapers, covering everything from agriculture, crime, education, books and theater.
He is survived by his parents, five brothers, a sister, and a large extended family.
Services are scheduled for noon on Saturday, Dec. 6, at the Holbrook Mortuary, 3251 S. 2300 East, Salt Lake City. Friends may visit with the family from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. prior to the services.
The family is asking in lieu of flowers to buy tickets to a musical theater production and attend.