Nathalie Warren McCulloch ’37

A Volunteer for Life

Nathalie Warren McCulloch ’37 has devoted her life to volunteering and supporting the causes that are dear to her heart. She says it all goes back to the Brimmer School, in Boston, where volunteerism was highly encouraged. This well-traveled grad’s motto is, “Stay busy with worthwhile things!”

What are your fondest memories of Brimmer?
There were only 16 girls in my class in those days. Brimmer was a wonderful school, and I had very good teachers. I particularly loved Ms. McCoy, our science teacher. I was very active in student government. I’ve always been a leader, and this is when it began. I enjoyed going out to the fields behind MIT for athletics. Admiral Byrd, [a famous Arctic explorer] spoke at our graduation. He was on the Board of Trustees and was a Brimmer neighbor. He wouldn’t kiss us because he had poison ivy!

How did your Brimmer education prepare you for your volunteer and philanthropic work?
We were urged to do volunteer work at Brimmer. I volunteered at a hospital while a student. Our country is based on volunteers. It’s very important. 

Why has it been important to you to stay connected with Brimmer over all these years?
I am really proud of the School. I go around bragging about it! Brimmer is very special. I am proud of Brimmer today because of the way it’s growing so wonderfully. Students are learning Mandarin and taking trips around the world! The School is outstanding!

Where did you attend college?
I went to Erskine Jr. College on Beacon Street in Boston. The school started in the 1800s, and we had a “borrowed” faculty who taught at Wellesley, Harvard, and other colleges. I met my husband, John, a Princeton graduate, at a party at Erskine. He was attending the Harvard Business School.
                           
Tell me about your world travels?
I have been to 125 countries. I even went to the North Pole a few years ago on a Russian icebreaker. I found Italy to have the most friendly people. They are so nice! I had my portrait painted in Italy.

What have you learned about life as you traveled so extensively?
I learned that people speak English in just about every country of the world and that they are always astounded that we have so many volunteers in this country. In our country, volunteers are really important.

Tell me about your extensive volunteer work and the foundations you support.
I have been a weekly volunteer at Selby Gardens in Sarasota, Florida, for 34 years. I served as President of the Associates, a group of volunteers who support the Gardens.

I support the Center for Architecture Sarasota, which contains the McCulloch Pavilion. It opened last year, and it’s a beautiful building. Sarasota has a big reputation in modern architecture. At the McCulloch Pavillion, students study for their Masters in Architecture from the University of Florida. It also includes a gallery displaying works of architects and landscape architects and a meeting room for lectures.

I was also Head of the Golden Gate Point Association, a neighborhood association in Sarasota. I was responsible for dealing with architecture and zoning issues.

I was on the Sarasota County Libraries Advisory Board for 12 years and head of the group at one point.  I was also President of Friends of Selby Library when it was built and served on their Advisory Board. Years ago, I was invited to go to China on the People to People Program as a library volunteer. It was a great honor. Everyone else on the trip was a librarian. We visited major city libraries and country libraries and had meetings. I told them what volunteers did for libraries in this country. I am very interested in libraries!

I was also Chairman of the Red Cross in Scarsdale, New York. During that time there was a major disaster—a large building collapsed. 

My only paid job ever was as head of the Red Cross Blood Donor Station at the Ford Motor Company River Rouge Plant. That was the biggest branch of the Ford Motor Company during the 2nd World War. We had collected 110,000 pints of blood when I left to join my husband in Chicago. He was in the army. I was also head of the Visiting Nurses in Scarsdale. 

One of my favorite volunteer jobs was serving as president of New Eyes for the Needy in Short Hills, New Jersey. The organization collects eye glasses and distributes them to people all over the world who can’t afford them. I have also supported the Fine Arts Society of Sarasota, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the John Ringling Boulevard Association. 

Sarasota is now the cultural center of Florida. I belong to them all!
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