Newel Branson Call

May 26, 1944 ~ November 19, 2020

Thursday November 19, 2020, one of the great humanitarians of the 2nd half of the Twentieth century passed: Newel Branson Call, born May 26th 1944 to Amy Brinton Call and Newel Thorstrom Call.

He spent most of his growing up years in Portland, Oregon where he felt compelled to play excellently every sport at Lincoln High School –he also was student body president. After graduating high school he spent the summer on an oil supply tanker in the South Pacific, where he was an oil wiper, to pay for anticipated college expenses. He had paid for all expenses and clothes, etc. since age 8.

He accepted a full scholarship to Harvard College where he also lettered in baseball, basketball and football. He interrupted his studies for an LDS mission to Germany and the ensuing military debt in the Marine Corps (where he also played inter-military basketball). He graduated Harvard in 1970.

That summer he married Kathleen Lach in the Salt Lake Temple and started Duke Medical School in Durham, North Carolina on scholarship. His first 2 children (Lisa Lynn Call Franklin and Erin Kathleen Call) were born there. He did an Internship at the University of Utah in internal medicine, then went on to residency at the UCLA Jules Stein Eye Institute. This was followed by a UCLA Oculoplastic fellowship and a final Orbital Oculoplastic Fellowship at the world famous Moorefield Road Eye hospital in London, where he moved his family when his youngest son was 3 months old, and lived on savings and night work.

While a resident in LA he supported his growing family by working nights in the county hospital. Travis Branson Call and Thomas Tyler Call were born at UCLA gratis also. He also had the opportunity during that period to take a rotation in Tegucigalpa Honduras which changed the course of his medical practicing life, igniting his love for humanitarian service. He subsequently took his whole family to Sierra Leone for a summer in 1988 to become the 2nd eye Doctor for 5 million people and then St Kitts for similar work with his family.

He set up the first Oculoplastic Eye practice in Salt Lake in 1980, where he was associated with all the local hospitals’ ER’s, also in St George and Idaho, since he was the only eye trauma doctor in those regions at that time. After medical training, he paid off all his debts by working for the royal family of Arabia in Riyadh for 4 months. He returned to his new and final daughter – Suzanna Call Hobbs – and private practice in 1983.
His 120-hours-a-week internship became a routine 80 hours a week for the next 30 years. He consistently interrupted his practice with his gratis work in 60 nations of the world – training doctors in the complicated eye trauma and tumor surgeries (not yet had among them) so doctors could stay in their own countries to treat their own poor. He worked with local contacts to establish surgical facilities, sometimes arranging outside funding and supplies, building up the doctors and the medical profession wherever he worked. In many countries he often used rustic equipment, school tables or antiquated operating rooms, honestly praising their local doctors’ skills, intellect and dedication. He trained U of U eye residents at the Veterans Hospital, taking his turn as Chief of Surgical Staff at LDS Hospital, and Chief of Ophthalmology at Primary Children’s Hospital.

He served many thousands here and thousands more abroad. He helped establish Deseret International – a humanitarian eye charity (now Charity Vision), and then worked in the emerging Church of Jesus Christ Vision Initiative traveling frequently on their behalf while still travelling for Deseret International. Those assignments ranged from 5 to 9 times a year. He was present and working in the Haiti earthquake of 2010.

Always very active in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, he served another mission in Chile with his wife in 2015-17 as medical consult for the country’s LDS missionaries. He told every missionary he met to go to medical school because he loved the humanitarian service opportunities it provided. After returning to SLC, he developed Alzheimer’s disease and died in his home amid the chaos and noise of a happy family (and most of his posterity) surrounding him.

Branson was a great grandson of Israel Call and thereby a descendant of Anson Call. Branson was preceded in death by his parents and older sister, Amy Lynn Call Harker Weiler. He is survived by his younger sister, Alison Call Hubbard, his 5 children, Lisa Lynn Call Franklin, Erin Kathleen Call, Travis Branson Call, Thomas Tyler Call, Suzanna Call Hobbs, his wife Kathy and 13 Grandchildren.

Private family services will be held. Interment will be at Salt Lake City Cemetery.


Thank you all for your kind words and amazing memories with my dad. He was an amazing teacher to me and great example of how to serve others with love and kindness. I am so glad to know of all the lives that he has touched. He is greatly missed and will always be remembered in our hearts

- Erin Call
I met Brad when he was at Harvard. Kathy and I had just moved to Boston after graduating from the U of U. Brad used to show up at our apartment in Back Bay, always doing his hat trick. He kicked his hat in the air, and it landed on his head every time! We never guessed he would have even more accomplishments as an eye surgeon! I’m glad he and Kathy stopped in to see me shortly before he passed.

- Teddie Krause
Dear Kathy and Call family. Branson was such a hero, truly, to so many that he served! I have so many happy memories of Culver City with you two . You brought lots of energy wherever you went. I wish there was no pain with separation. May our Heavenly Father bless your family with comfort and faith🙏 Lots of love, Inger Schmutz♥️

- Inger Schmutz
Kathy and family.... Sorry to hear if your loss. May comfort and love surround you ar this difficult time..... Regards Julie Cunningham

- Julie cunningham
Having shared an office with Dr. Call in the early 2000’s I appreciated him so much. Dr. Call and his service to others was inspirational. Such a kind and wonderful man. To the Call family, thank you for sharing Dr. Call with so many when he traveled to provide care to those in need. Annette Mahler

- Annette
Dear Kathy and family We knew that Branson was an important and gifted doctor. We were aware that he was a humanitarian who shared his gift with a large portion of the Third World. The loss to your family and to society is huge. But we didn't know he grew up in Portland, a wunderkind who excelled at athletics, academics and student life. We enjoyed learning about this aspect of a fine youngster who became a fine, even great, man. We are so sorry for your, and the world's, loss. "Winky" and Dan Oswald

- Willo and Dan Oswald
What a tremendous man and public servant. His legacy of service and hard work is reflected in his family. My heartfelt condolences.

- Barbara Thornton
Kathy, i was sorry to hear of the passing of Branson. Remember the fun memories! The Liddells, Vere and I shared a fabulous Yachting adventure with you and Branson. Such a wonderful shared time! Condolences to you and your family! Love, Masie Lancaster

- Masie Lancaster
I feel so privileged to get to know Branson if only for a few years. He was an amazing person! I love you all Call family and wish I could be there at the funeral. Sending all my love and prayers your family way! Love, Jenna Bailey

- Jenna Bailey
Thanks for employing Amee and being so kind to her and her family for many years. she shared many stories of your life and travels. .May you Rest In Peace..

- Fay DeLeeuw, Amee’s father
I’m so sad u lost your dad. He was the best uncle I ever had. He Truely will be missed

- Alison Tieman