Norman E. “Sandy” McCulloch Jr.
Date of Passing:
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.