McCue passes: Legendary UVA sports doc dies at 82

The sports and hand surgeon who treated so many generations of University of Virginia athletes that they created a society and a building in his honor has died at the age of 82. Retired orthopedic surgeon Dr. Frank C. McCue III, who headed the UVA sports medicine program for over 40 years, died Sunday, July 8.

The accolades have been pouring in from athletes– and even from a celebrated non-athlete.

"He was just a heck of a wonderful guy," says Phil Bradley. "They don't come any better than that."

Bradley was injured in the deadliest plane wreck in Charlottesville history, the 1959 crash of Piedmont Flight #349; and he recalls fondly how McCue– then just a medical resident– helped another doctor wrench his hip back into place after Bradley spent 36 hours trapped as the sole survivor on Buck's Elbow Mountain.

"He got down on his knees," recalls Bradley, "and started tugging on my leg. And I said, 'you got it in that time.'"

McCue, who injured a hand in the move, would frequently return to the convalescing Bradley's bedside and chat into the evening.

"What a humanitarian that guy was," says Bradley. "He had a love for everybody."

In an email sent to local media, former UVA basketball coach and athletic director Terry Holland remembers how the man simply called "Doc" and wife Nancy would invite recovering players into their home for speedier recovery. Holland says McCue would gladly stitch up Holland's players, family members– and even Holland himself– after regular work hours.

"Just bring them over to the house," Holland quotes McCue as saying– as the doctor "would excuse himself from a dinner party or whatever he and his family were doing."

McCue retired in 2003, fifteen years after a sports medicine scholarship society was created in his honor and a dozen years after the McCue Center, UVA's main athletics support building, was similarly dedicated.

"While there are many wonderful doctors who have followed in his footsteps," says Holland, "there will never be anyone as unique as Dr. McCue was in his time on this earth."

Read more on: Dr. Frank C. McCue III


Doc fixed my broken and dislocated wrist when I was in Grad school and playing softball in the mid 1980's. The resident had just told me that I needed surgery to get everthing back into place when Doc came in, gave me a local, then put my hand in a Chinese finger trap kind of a thing and hung some weights off my elbow. Next thing I know he's grabbed ahold of my broken wrist and was moving the bones back into place. It was unbelievable and made a grinding kind of a sound. But when he sent me back to X-ray, everything was back where it needed to be. We still weren't sure if it would heal properly so I saw him every month or so for the next six months. Toward the end he even made me a special cast that I could take off to play squash with and do rehad exersizes that he taught me. Complete recovery and he never sent me a billl......Thanks Doc.

When I heard of his passing, I thought he was the same one who treated Phil Bradley after his 1959 plane crash. I heard him and Mr. Bradley speak at the 50th anniversary
memorial at Mint Springs. What a story!