GORDON E. McCALLUM, P.E.
Assistant Surgeon General
Rear Admiral, USPHS (ret.)
Gordon E. McCallum was born on April 17, 1915, in Hastings, Michigan. His career included service as both a state and county level engineer as well as a Federal Civil Service engineer, before beginning a distinguished decades-long career in the Public Health Service (PHS) Commissioned Corps. His career with the PHS included contributions to major segments of the Service including the forerunner of the Centers for Disease Control, called the Malaria Control in War Areas office, several PHS regional offices, and the headquarters office of the Service in Washington, D.C. His contributions to the field were particularly significant in the areas of emergency preparedness and water pollution control.
McCallum received a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the State University of Iowa in 1933 and the degree of Civil Engineer from the same University in 1940. He was a registered professional engineer in the State of Michigan. Gordon McCallum and Celeste McCallum were married on July 5, 1937 in Albany, Georgia.
After graduation from undergraduate school, McCallum worked for a year as a assistant sanitary engineer for the Michigan State Department of Health and then through 1939 as chief sanitary engineer for the Kent County Health department in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In that year he became a Federal Civil Service public health engineer as part of the Ohio River pollution Survey with headquarters at the Indiana State Board of Health. In 1940 he was transferred to Washington, DC to work on environmental sanitation activities related to national defense.
On September 18, 1941, just prior to the U.S. entry into World War II, McCallum was commissioned as an engineering officer in the United States Public Health Service and assigned to the Federal Office of Civilian Defense with responsibilities for the maintenance of safe and adequate water supplies. He rose to the post of Chief Sanitary Engineer and remained in that position until early 1944 when he was transferred to work for a short period of time in the Malaria in War Areas Program in Atlanta.
In mid-1944 McCallum was transferred to the San Francisco Regional Office of the PHS to provide general sanitary engineering consultation to state departments of health, the Federal Works Agency, the War Production Board, the Indian Health program of the Department of Interior and the U.S. Coast Guard. In late 1945 he was transferred to the PHS Regional Office in New Orleans where he assisted state departments of health and related institutions in obtaining surplus property related to health and engineering operations. After a six-month assignment to the Chicago-Cook County Health Survey, McCallum returned to New Orleans to take on responsibilities for general sanitary engineering consultation to state and local health departments in the region.
In June of 1948 McCallum returned to the field of emergency health planning with an assignment to the Office of the Surgeon General (OSG) as the Chief of Health Emergency Planning, where he was involved in the integration of PHS emergency health activities with those of other Federal Agencies and the utilization of PHS reserve officers in health emergencies. He continued in his emergency planning activities in the OSG through 1955 completing his work there in the post of Chief of the Sanitary Engineering Branch of the Office of Civil Defense Planning.
In 1955, McCallum was appointed as Chief of the Water Supply and Pollution Control Branch of the Bureau of State Services, and in 1959 he was named Chief of the Division of Water Pollution Control for that Bureau, a post he held until his retirement. He served on the Tennessee River Basin Water Pollution Control Commission and the Ohio River Valley Sanitation Commission as well as the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River. On February 1, 1962, Gordon E. McCallum was elevated to the rank of Assistant Surgeon General with the corresponding rank of Rear Admiral (RADM).
He retired from the PHS Commissioned Corps on December 30, 1965. After retirement from the PHS Corps he worked for the Infilco Division of General American Transportation Corporation as an assistant to the firm’s President and later served as an environmental engineering consultant with Engineering Sciences Incorporated and as a consultant to the National Wildlife Federation.
RADM McCallum was the author of more than 100 papers in his field. Among his awards are the American Campaign Medal, World War II Victory Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal. He was a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers and the American Public Health Association. He was a life member of the Commissioned Officers Association of the USPHS, and the American Academy of Environmental Engineers. He also served as a president of the Conference of Federal Sanitary Engineers and the Federal Water Quality Association as well as a Director of the Water Pollution Control Federation. The American Public Works Association named him as one of the top public works people in 1963.
RADM McCallum passed away on June 19, 1992 in Silver Spring, Maryland.