Charles E. McCully, 81


Our beloved Charles (Chuck) E. McCully passed away peacefully surrounded by his family at his home in Laguna Woods May 5, 2019. He was 81.

He was a treasured husband, father, brother, grandfather, family member, friend and educator.

Chuck is survived by his wife of 58 years, Sue; daughters, Melinda Stark (Roy), Stephanie Smith (Christopher), and Rebecca Chelf (Tim); sisters, Sandy Huff and Kelly King; and seven grandchildren.

He is preceded in death by his parents, Chuck and Vera McCully, and a sister, Charlene Allison.

Chuck was born in Carrollton, OH March 1, 1938.

He graduated from Carrollton High School in 1956 and from Ohio University in 1960 with a BS in Biology and Physical Education. Chuck immediately started his educational career in Canton, OH as a teacher and coach before being promoted to Cadet Principal at Trump Middle School. He married Sue in 1961 and they relocated to California in 1963 where Chuck became a teacher at Park Side Elementary School in Sebastopol. Within a year, at age 26, Chuck accepted the position of Principal/Superintendent for Kenwood Elementary School and District and at the time, becoming the youngest superintendent in the state of California. He simultaneously attended night school at San Francisco State and completed his Masters in 1965. In 1966 Chuck was named Deputy County Superintendent for Marin County Schools. At the time, the newly formed Shoreline Unified School District in West Marin and its brand new Board had the task of hiring its first superintendent. The Marin County Board of Education loaned Chuck to the Shoreline Board as a consultant to assist in their superintendent search. After considering 60 candidates the Shoreline board concluded that the best candidate for the position was already in their midst. They convinced Chuck to apply and thereafter he successfully led the 375-square-mile district for 5 years. Afterward, from 1973-1980 he served as superintendent for Albany Unified and from 1980-1986 for Los Alamitos Unified. While there, his vision and commitment to renovate the Los Alamitos High School auditorium into a high-quality venue for students to showcase their talents served as the catalyst for the creation of The Orange County School of the Arts. Chuck spent 5 years in the private sector before taking over as interim superintendent for a troubled Fresno Unified School District in 1991. Months later he assumed the superintendency there and in 1995, Chuck spearheaded a massive effort to pass Measure A, the largest-ever K-12 school bond approved by voters in California ($215 million). It was his fourth attempt. When interviewed by The Fresno Bee reporter to comment, a jubilant Chuck said, “Now the work will begin.” Chuck tried to retire from education after 35 years but between 1997–2013 he was repeatedly recruited to help school districts in transition, serving as Interim Superintendent for several California Districts including Sacramento, Elk Grove, Fresno (for a second time), Sonora, Capistrano Valley, Fresno’s Central Unified and Santa Ana. “During his second interim in Fresno in 2005, the district was facing a state takeover as it managed a $34.9 million deficit. McCully remarked at the time that the situation was worse than when he first took over as superintendent in 1992. But he had the same solution the second time: collaboration. Through the district’s desperation McCully was seen as a down to earth, guiding figure who did a lot to save Fresno Unified not once, but twice.” –Fresno Bee, May 26, 2019. Chuck had a competitive and mischievous spirit, a contagious laugh and a great joke always at the ready. A great athlete in his younger years, he loved all sports and in his later years he developed a passion and great skill for golf. He and Sue enjoyed playing with their friends and were able to play many of the greatest courses in the country. He was devoted to his grandchildren and never missed their sporting events. He was their biggest fan. His greatest passion of all…always… was for his family.

A Celebration of Life Service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 8, 2019 at Mariners Church Chapel, 5001 Newport Coast Dr., Irvine, California. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to your local hospice.