BRADENTON — A steadying presence on the Manatee Hurricanes sideline for 40 years.
The gracious husband of a vivacious wife who loved to entertain and host fundraisers in their Riverview Boulevard home.
A tireless physician who never turned anyone away, even if they couldn’t pay.
Dr. Owen McCarthy was that and so much more.
“He was my North Star, a selfless human being who put everyone else first,” said his daughter Michelle, chairperson for Manatee High’s English department. “It doesn’t seem real he’s gone.”
Mr. McCarthy, 74, died Tuesday morning.
According to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, he was found by his wife, Dottie, on an outside patio of their home in the 6400 block of Third Avenue West, dead of a gunshot wound.
Sheriff’s officials have ruled it an apparent suicide.
“It’s a terrible loss for the community,” said Dr. Joseph Ganey Jr., who comes from a family of doctors who have long served Manatee County. “He was a fine physician, a fine person, who did an enormous amount of community work that went unappreciated.
“Dottie and Owen would open up their house at the drop of a hat for any cause. When you needed something, he was there.”
Like teaming up with Ganey doing thousands of free physicals for football players over the years.
“It wasn’t important he didn’t get paid. It wasn’t important he could’ve been sleeping in on that Saturday morning,” Ganey said. “He was going to be there for his boys.”
His boys were the Manatee Hurricanes.
As team physician, Mr. McCarthy was an iconic figure on the sidelines for four decades, frequently standing alongside coach Eddie Shannon, another icon who’s been at MHS for 40 years.
“He loved those kids,” Shannon said. “Everywhere the team went — Miami, Gainesville, Pensacola — he showed up and did his best for them. God, he’s going to be missed.”
“Just having him there every Friday night was reassuring,” said Rod Frazier, a former Hurricane fullback and now assistant coach. “If anything happened you knew he’d take care of you.”
Off the field, too.
“Whatever he could do to help — do physicals, buy tables to a team event, provide support services — he’d just give and give and give,” Principal Bob Gagnon said. “It meant everything to him, everything to us, everything to those kids. It’s a tremendous loss for us.”
A loss felt by the medical community, as well.
Mr. McCarthy, who started his orthopedic surgery practice here in 1969, was recently honored for 40 years of service by Manatee Memorial Hospital.
“Owen was a stalwart for the right thing,” said Dr. Austin Hill, the MMH chief of staff. “He worked harder than anyone I know — by himself, covering calls 24/7. I don’t know how.”
Hill also cited the McCarthy’s generosity several years ago when We Care Manatee Inc., a charitable program offering medical services to the county’s uninsured, was in a bind.
“If it hadn’t been for Owen and Dottie, we’d have folded up shop,” he said.
“This family has been very devoted to this community, giving of their time and resources for countless service organizations and services important to them,” said Vernon DeSear, the MMH spokesman and community leader. “It’s a time of deep sadness.”
“We love and appreciate everyone’s support,” Michelle McCarthy said. “My father was a man who loved his family, his children and his football team.”
Mr. McCarthy is survived by his wife Dottie, children Chip, Michelle and Michael, daughter-in-law Brigitte, grandchildren Sean and Anna, and his siblings Peter, Matt, Mark and Jean.
The funeral is being handled by Brown and Sons Funeral Homes and Crematory and will be private.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Manatee Hurricane football program.
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055, or write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, Fl. 34206. Include a number for verification.