Richard V. McCann ’37

Richard V. McCann ’37 died on March 14, 2012, in Roslindale, Massachusetts.

He was born on November 29, 1913, in Portland, and prepared for college at Deering High School, where he was salutatorian of his graduating class. At Bowdoin, he was the bell ringer for the Bowdoin chimes; a recipient of a State of Maine Scholarship, the Hiland Lockwood Fairbanks Prize, and the DeAlva Stanwood Alexander Prize; a dean’s list student; and a member of Chi Psi fraternity. He also was regarded as one of the best singers on campus. He went on to earn a bachelor of sacred theology degree in 1943 and a doctorate in history and philosophy of religion in 1955, both from Harvard University. He earned his doctorate, the first-ever in the psychology of religion, as a Carnegie Corp. Fellow. That same year, he was appointed associate professor of social ethics at Andover Newton Theological School. He also taught at Harvard Divinity School, and taught French, German, and Latin at the Taft School for Boys and Wilbraham Academy. He served in the Submarine Signal Service during World War II. He worked with Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, the Governor’s Board on Higher Education Policy, as director of research for the New England Regional Office of Education, and finally as New England regional director for the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. He published two books, Delinquency: Sickness or Sin? and The Churches and Mental Health. He was keenly interested in interfaith and cross-cultural communications and human relations and helped establish the Boston Indian Center, New England Regional Task Force on Indian Affairs (Federal), and the Massachusetts Commission on Indian Affairs. In 1975, he was awarded the Superior Service Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. Office of Education, for his pioneering work on behalf of American Indians. For 14 years he produced and moderated an award-winning non-denominational interfaith television series, Our Believing World, on WBZ. His work was recognized with awards from the National Conference on Christians and jews, B’nai B’rith, the Valley Forge Freedom Foundation and Temple Mishkan Tefila in Boston. Programs included the first visit to the United States of the English Archbishop of Canterbury; broadcast from Old North Church; the installation of Bishop John Burgess, the first African American bishop in America; first broadcast of a Roman Catholic service; Greek Orthodox service; and a family celebrating Passover. He played the accordion and piano with the All Newton Jazz Band, sang with the All Newton Chorus, and played a fine piano round in the annual First Church of Cambridge Musicale. He is survived by son David McCann; daughter Judy Battat; four grandchildren; four great-granddaughters; and a sister, Phyllis Hollinshead. He was predeceased by Helen Summer McCann, his wife of 62 years, in 2006.

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