McCullough Legacy: Stewardship across generations

By Rod Linhares

Jeannie (McCullough) Stiles vividly remembers when her father became her hero. He had witnessed a hit-and-run accident. “A car hit a young boy and took off. My dad drove after the car, ran into it and stopped him.”

When her dad arrived home that night, he didn’t mention what he had done. He gathered the family together to pray for the boy. “We found out, the next day, the details of what dad did when we saw pictures and the description of the accident on the front page of the Marin Independent Journal.”

The driver of the hit-and-run vehicle was drunk; he then sued Jeannie’s father for damaging his vehicle. Her father, Robert “Bob” McCullough, fought the lawsuit with support from the people of Marin and prevailed. This case led to establishing California’s Good Samaritan law.

A native of San Francisco, McCullough attended St. Ignatius College Prep (class of 1948) and then Santa Clara University. He enjoyed a successful career as a stockbroker and investment adviser for many institutions, including the California Jesuits, the Archdiocese of San Francisco, and various religious orders and dioceses.

He met Barbara Hart when they were in kindergarten at Star of the Sea grammar school, and they started dating in high school. Their families’ Catholic lineage in San Francisco was deep – Barbara, a 3rd generation San Franciscan, graduated from Presentation High School. Her father was an altar boy at St. Dominic’s and graduated from Sacred Heart High School. McCullough’s aunt was a St. Joseph of Carondelet sister who was principal of Star of the Sea grammar and high school, where she also taught Latin (Robert and Barbara were kindergartners when she was the principal). His other aunt was the novice director of the Notre Dame Sisters in Belmont. McCullough was impacted by the poverty of the sisters, and this spurred him to provide support in the future.

Because of the Church’s influence on their lives, the McCulloughs supported many Archdiocesan organizations. When asked why they gave and allowed their names to be on buildings, both responded, “I want my grandchildren to know what was important to me, faith. We have what we have because of the Church.”

Although Robert McCullough passed away in April of 2007 and Barbara in April of 2023, their legacy in the Archdiocese is extensive. They were generous to Santa Clara University (endowing an accounting chair), St. Patrick’s Seminary, Marin Catholic and St. Ignatius high schools, the Retired Priests Fund, St. Mary’s Cathedral and Mission Dolores. Barbara was especially happy that nine priestly vocations came from sponsoring trips to Lourdes with Father Tom Daley. She simply stated, “No priests, no Eucharist.”

The McCulloughs also supported many orders of sisters. After Robert died, Barbara assisted the Dominican Sisters of Mother Mary of the Eucharist. She was particularly excited to participate in bringing the sisters to Marin Catholic and furnishing their convent in Mill Valley.

Robert was also a second-generation member of the Order of Malta and made several trips to Lourdes. Both he and Barbara were members in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher, and the family’s involvement in the Catholic faith continued with their children. In addition to Jeannie, there are three boys – her twin brother Bob, Brian and Larry.

We are all called to act as stewards to help reach future generations with the Church’s message of faith, love and hope. Robert and Barbara McCullough’s support and commitment exemplified their deep love of our Catholic faith. They are a great inspiration and their commitment lives on.

Rod Linhares is the director of Mission Advancement for the Archdiocese of San Francisco.