John F. MacMorran ’46, whom Bowdoin honored with a Distinguished Educator Award in 1981, died on September 5, 2009, in St. Stephen, New Brunswick.
He inspired generations of students as a private school teacher and headmaster. His influence was so widespread and appreciated that New Hampshire’s Tilton School named its field house after him, though he admittedly was not an athlete himself. He was born in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada, on August 17, 1924, and became a permanent resident of the United States in 1926, when his parents moved to Calais, Maine. He prepared for college at Calais Academy, where he was valedictorian of his graduating class. His academic achievements continued at Bowdoin, where he entered as one of four State of Maine Scholar recipients, and was awarded a Charles Irwin Travelli Fund scholarship for three consecutive years. At Bowdoin, he was a member of Kappa Sigma fraternity and winner of the Col. William Henry Owen Premium. An accomplished musician, he was the first Bowdoin student in the College’s history to perform the organ recital at commencement. He completed graduate work at école Française de Middlebury College in the summer of 1949, and earned a master’s degree in French literature from Boston University in 1950, the same year he became a naturalized U.S. citizen. A consummate educator, he was also a lifelong student, taking additional courses in school administration and supervision at Boston University School of Education and counseling and guidance courses at the University of Maine in Portland, and attending the counseling institute at the Northfield Mount Hermon School and the Wisconsin State University summer theater institute. He taught Latin and French at Tilton School and was director of musical activities for five years before being appointed administrative assistant to the president of Endicott College. In 1953, he was appointed headmaster of Leavitt Academy, at the time the youngest private-school headmaster in New England. Ten years later, he returned to Tilton School as a Latin teacher and head of campus living. He became headmaster in 1971, increasing the school’s enrollment by 25 percent in seven years. He remained headmaster for 11 years. He was a member of the Methodist Church, Republicans, Grange, Masons, National Associations of Secondary School Principals, and Independent Schoolmasters Association. He was the author of A Letter of John Gulnac, a National Poetry Anthology; “Educational Practices,” a Maine State Principals’ Handbook, and “Teaching for Today” in Bowdoin Magazine. He returned to New Brunswick in retirement and served as a church organist. He served one term on the local school board, was named trustee of the Charlotte County Museum and the St. Croix Historical Society. He was organist at the St. Stephen Presbyterian Church for 15 years. His legacy will continue in the scholarships he established for future students: a $200,000 endowment for the Folsom-MacMorran Scholarship for students from Pomeroy, Scotch, and Basswood Ridges, New Brunswick, where his ancestors came from; and a $350,000 endowment for the Olive Folsom MacMorran Scholarship (in honor of his mother) for financial aid for Bowdoin students from Calais or Washington County, Maine.