Norman E. “Sandy” McCulloch Jr.

Date of Passing:

July 26, 2020

McCulloch, Norman E. “Sandy” Jr. (94) died as bravely as he lived on July 26, 2020 with his wife Dotty at his side. After a month of hospital stays and 2 cardiac procedures, he opted not to continue further treatment and spend his last days at home with family. He is survived by his devoted wife and partner of more than 70 years, Dorothy (Rooke) McCulloch, with whom he partnered in philanthropy, educational pursuits, international ventures, construction of five homes, as well as in sports—tennis, golf, skiing into their 80’s, mountain hiking, and fly fishing. They met when they both studied at the Sorbonne in Paris under the Junior Year in France program in 1948-49.
The couple had five children: Bill & Cassandre who predeceased Sandy; James and his two children, Bay and Lucas of Providence; Stacey (Gayatri) and her son Huitzi of Crestone, CO; and Niles and his wife Martha of Greene, RI. His brother, Neil, of Palm City, FL died earlier this year. He is also survived by his two pet Bichons, Nicole and Suzette.

His parents, Norman and Mary McCulloch, started the clan in 1926 in a second-floor apartment in Pawtucket, owned by three sister teachers on the first floor who gave Sandy a love of new words, reading, and expression. Summers were spent on Adams Point in Barrington until 1935 when the family moved to Barrington permanently. Education continued at Nayatt School, Providence Country Day School, Barrington High School ’43, Phillips Academy, Andover ’44, two years as a U.S. Navy radar technician, and four years at Dartmouth College ’50. His formal education was capped during a 16-week Program for Management Development (PMD-2) at Harvard Business School in 1961.

Growing up, the Barrington Yacht Club offered sailing and small-boat racing experience. With a particularly fast boat, Sandy won Narragansett Bay and New England Beetle Boat Championships. His father insisted on a healthy work/play relationship, so Sandy started a company for home delivery of popcorn and potato chips. He also spent two summers learning his father’s textile business in Pawtucket, Microfibres Inc., which he later operated until 1988 when he turned it over to his son, Jim.

He graduated from Barrington High School at age 16. Being of small stature (5’ 6” and 137 lbs.), Sandy had to depend on other skills for acceptance. Voted the wittiest of his class of 1943, he wrote and directed plays in the Town Hall Theater and played clarinet in the band. Sandy went to Andover, graduated at 17, and immediately enlisted in the U.S. Navy where he learned how to maintain and repair radar equipment. He entered Dartmouth, at age 20, majored in French, played soccer and lacrosse, and was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon and Sphinx Senior Society.

The McCullochs enjoyed traveling. As members of the Young Presidents Organization, they attended trips worldwide and with family in Africa. They participated in alumni college study trips in Hanover, NH and abroad. In 1988, they began a series of annual September trips to a rental home in Provence, France. Sandy joined brother-in-law, Bob Rooke, on annual treks deep in the Canadian woods for fishing and partridge hunting. He enjoyed 35 visits to Iceland with family and friends in pursuit of Atlantic salmon. Dotty and he loved Winter, and Sandy was a founding director and long-time chairman of Mount Attitash ski area in New Hampshire.

The Junior Year in France was a life-changer for both Dotty and Sandy where they became aware of the need for international understanding of different cultures. They have remained close to the French family with whom he lived.

Sandy felt most motivated and energized by his work in the field of education. He was one of the founders of the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth in 1982 (which he chaired for 31 years), and Dotty was key in establishing the McCulloch Center for Global Initiatives at Mount Holyoke College as well as her long-time involvement at International House of R.I.

At Dartmouth, he chaired the Alumni Council, the Alumni Fund committee, and became a trustee in 1975. As chairman of a 5-year capital campaign, which raised over $200 million dollars, he had the challenge of addiction to alcohol. With the support of family and friends, he went through a recovery program at St. Mary’s in Minneapolis and recently celebrated 40 years of sobriety. He chaired the Search Committee for a new president, which chose James O. Freedman, the first Dartmouth president with no prior connection with the school since 1823. Sandy served on the Dartmouth Board of Trustees for 13 years and chaired it for 2. He received an honorary Doctor of Laws from Dartmouth in 2000, preceded by an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Johnson & Wales University in 1983. When he stepped down in 2013, Dartmouth was greeting its 18th president, and Sandy had worked closely with 7 of them.

By nature, Sandy was an optimist, had a good sense of humor, and loved challenge. His father had given him a Walter Lippmann quotation that graced his office wall: “Great works are not for the faint-hearted who doubt themselves. Yet only with that humility which opens men’s minds to wisdom can greatness be understood”. He liked nothing better than to challenge the status quo, and yet, he never forgot President Jim Freedman’s advice. “Sandy, don’t forget to listen to that little bird on your shoulder that says ‘Maybe’”. His mentor, former President John Dickey, impressed on him these three C’s: Competence, Commitment, and Conscience as essential aspects of character.

Sandy and Dotty were deeply committed to St. Andrew’s School. In his 30’s, he became the first lay Chairman of the Board. He worked with 2 Headmasters, Stephen Waters and John D. Martin, during a period of development and change. The purchase of the School’s farmland given to the Town of Barrington led to the building of the McCulloch Center for The Arts. Bill’s House and CJ’s Dance Studio are in memory of their two children.

In 1994, Sandy joined the board of The Rhode Island Foundation. He served on the Board for 9 years and chaired it for 3. It was undergoing an exciting transition from a passive to a proactive force serving all of Rhode Island. As Chair, he was a key factor in purchasing “new” headquarters in the former railroad station.

In the corporate world, he was a director of Narragansett Capital Corp. under Royal Little, of Fleet National Bank, Old Colony Cooperative Bank, and Edgehill Newport Rehabilitation Center.

In 1992, he and Dotty established the McAdams Charitable Foundation with education, particularly public education, as its primary philanthropy. Sandy promptly joined the Boards of two charter schools: Rhode Island Mayoral Academies (RIMA) and Achievement First RI in Olneyville. He was also instrumental in the creation of New England Basecamp, which is a non-profit organization supporting educators through change. In a larger sense, both he and Dotty felt that the state of American public education – particularly in the inner cities – bore a direct relation to the durability and quality of our democratic traditions.

Life did not slow down much for him, and at his 90th birthday celebration he distributed a poem by S. Hall Young: “Let Me Die Working, Still Tackling Plans Unfinished, Tasks Undone”! He frequently stated that despite the tragedies of the loss of two children, their life has been incredibly rich and rewarding. Sandy enjoyed his office and lunches with his staff, Esther Caran, Janet Innis, and Mary Ready at the Hope and University Clubs. Sandy and Dotty were communicants of St. John’s Church and members of the Rhode Island Country Club since 1951. Their life was greatly enhanced by the amazing, long-time help of Ilda and Virginio Franco from Bristol with their home, property, and personal care.

Due to the pandemic, there will be no service or calling hours. Condolences may be sent to W. Raymond Watson Funeral Home online at wrwatsonfuneralhome.com. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Sandy’s name to K-12 educational pursuits in RI, especially New England Basecamp, 150 Main Street, Pawtucket, RI 02860, his latest educational involvement.

Online Condolences

10 Comments

  1. Dearest Dotty, Jim, Niles and Gayatri,

    You have my deepest condolences.

    Sandy’s passing is no doubt a milestone for many people. A “big” life like his touches others in immeasurable ways. For our family and me, there is hardly a time of recollection without you McCullochs in it.

    As nextdoor neighbors in Barrington for years, Sandy maintained he had to move down the street to just escape us, only to be followed some time later by our moving to a house across the street.

    The first memory I have of being in Sandy’s bad graces was a terrible day. It followed the time Gayatri and I rolled your station wagon down the driveway through the split rail fence and into the back yard. Although I was seven and she was five, I recall the resulting conversation as being most serious. He always had high expectations, something I grew to admire emormously in later years.

    Reading his wonderful obituary, I was surprised by the fact that Sandy was 5’6″ tall. I had always seen him as a towering figure, larger than life and a force to be reckoned with. That is how I will always remember him, with admiration and great fondness.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    With love,
    Lolly

  2. Dear Mrs. McCullough, I feel privileged to have known you and Mr. McCullough and was deeply saddened to read of his recent death. His obituary is a remarkable testimony to a life lived in service to others and society.

    My best to you and your family and to Mr. Franco, whose visits to my office with your pups over the years are a most pleasant memory. Sincerely, Lynn Anne Evans

  3. Dear Dotty,
    I am so sorry to learn of Sandy’s passing and thinking of you and your family during this time. You and Sandy have encouraged and supported causes that have transformed the educational landscape and conversation in Rhode Island for generations to come and we are a better state for it. I’m extremely appreciative of the time and guidance Sandy always provided me over the years and I will forever be grateful and know that his Vox and passion for change will always be present in our state. Sending my deepest condolence.

  4. Dear Dotty,

    Sandy was a Titan of Good in a world that so badly needs ambassadors of love, change, and betterment. Sandy’s commitment to improving education in Rhode Island (and beyond) has inspired many leaders and provided opportunity to thousands of young people. I know that the work that I have the privilege to lead is possible in large part because of Sandy’s leadership.

    Much love to you during this time, and always.

  5. Dear Dotty: You and Sandy have shaped Mount Holyoke College in profound and lasting ways, and I remain truly grateful for your many contributions. Sandy’s commitment to excellence in higher education, his integrity, and his humor were an inspiration. I am so deeply saddened by his passing and honored to have known him. Please know that you and your loved ones remain in our thoughts.

  6. When I was a student at St Andrews in the 70’s, Mr and Mrs McCulloch invited a bunch of the students from Bill’s House to their home in N. Conway NH for a ski weekend. None of us had ever skied before. I remember how patient and kind they were to us.
    I never forgot them.
    Thank you and my heartfelt condolences.

  7. Dear Dotty,

    I am so sorry to learn of Sandy’s death. Coincidentally, I was talking with my sister the day before yesterday, and I told her the story of Sandy’s impact on my life when I was young.

    Sandy (and your father) changed my life, and I will always be grateful to his recommendation letter to Dartmouth in 1974. We lived next to you dad, Bob Rooke, in Welstfield, NJ. (I always called him “Mr. Rooke”, and I find it hard not to type that now). Mr. Rooke hired me when I was about 13 to look after his house when he was in Florida (a story in itself). In high school I mentioned to Mt. Rooke that I really wanted to go to Dartmouth College and he suggested a meeting with Sandy during his next visit. Sandy interviewed me when he came to town, and then wrote a glowing letter that I didn’t deserve. I do not think I would have been accepted had it not been for Sandy’s kindness and generosity. Sandy taught me the importance of helping those who come behind us. His lesson lives on with me, and I hope with my children and grandchildren.

    Kim and I send our condolences to you and your family. Sandy was a great man.

  8. Dear Mrs. McCulloch,

    My heart grieves along side yours and your families. As I did not know Mr. McCulloch very well, you and he are the parents of two people I will always deeply love and hold close to my heart, Neil and Stacy.

    You and your husband lived full, rich lives,
    giving so much back to this world. You deserve to be so proud and I honor both of you for your kindness.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    Joe Housley

  9. Dear Dotty,
    You and your family are in our thoughts, hearts and prayers. I was just talking about Sandy last week, reminiscing about how well my Mother was taken care of upon my Father’s passing and all I learned from having served on the St. Andrew’s School Board from Sandy. I value most his intelligence, empathy and authenticity.
    My family is blessed to have you and yours in our lives. My parents had so many treasured memories between you all. I feel most fortunate for Sandy’s unforgettable eulogy at my Father’s service. No one else could have bravely captured my Father’s character during such of emotional time.
    Sandy left an indelible mark on all the lives of people who knew him and many more who may not of had the pleasure but certainly, benefitted from his passion, diligence and philanthropy.
    When I think of Sandy, I think of you and your kind nature. You two had a storied romance and remarkable marriage.
    My you find peace surrounded by love and support during this difficult time.
    With Sympathy,
    Twink, Jesse and Miles

  10. Dotty,

    I am heartbroken for you and your family, Dartmouth, Sandy’s numerous philanthropic causes and his wide circle of friends. Sandy was my mentor, advisor and friend! I will miss his wisdom, warmth, effervescent smile and “ever-ready” battery energy. He was a positive force and left a lasting legacy.

    I worked closely with Sandy when I chaired the nominating committee of the Alumni Council and he chaired the Board. We then served together on the President’s Leadership Council and when I assumed the role of PLC chair, I relied on Sandy for advice. He always found time and when it came to Dartmouth, he seemingly always said “yes”! I had two sons attend Dartmouth and the Dickey Center for International Understanding was a vital part of their Dartmouth experience. It was Sandy’s foresight and your family’s generosity that made the Dickey Center a reality.

    I will miss my phone calls with Sandy, your hysterical holiday cards and Sandy’s huge heart. Thank you too for your willingness to support The Summer Camp, a residential camp experience for girls from underserved communities in Providence and New England. It meant a lot.

    My husband, David and I send you our condolences and love.

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