Tuesday, March 6, 2012

In Memoriam - Andy McCutcheon

Posted by Bruce Miller
A dear friend of Barksdale Theatre and Theatre IV died on February 12, 2012, after a relatively short battle with cancer. He was 84 years young, and sharp as a tack. Although he's been very involved for at least 20 years, many of you may not know him. Not only did he not seek the limelight, when special recognition was offered to him, he frequently, respectfully declined.

His name was Andy McCutcheon, and he was an unusually active and committed Board spouse. His wife Charlotte served on the Theatre IV Board for a couple decades, and Andy was always there, by her side, at every Opening Night, every fundraiser, every Coffee & Conversations program, every trip to NYC or London ... you get the drift.

Andy and Charlotte have been subscribers and contributors for as long as I can remember. But as much as we valued that support, that's not what we loved. We loved the friendship, the genuine caring, the gazillion laughs we shared, the cards and prayers that were immediately forthcoming when one of us or one of them hit the proverbial rough patch.

Andy was a college football player, a WWII Navy veteran, and an award-winning sportswriter for the Richmond News Leader. His heartfelt, impassioned liberalism gave him an abiding interest in politics. He left his career in journalism to serve as executive assistant to two Congressmen. Catching the attention of the Kennedy family, he was hand-picked to be the special assistant to Sargent Shriver at the U. S. Office of Economic Opportunity, overseeing a vital jobs program. Then he was drafted to run for Congress himself, trying to unseat Republican incumbent William L. Scott. Believing that if you're going to do something you'd better do it all the way, Andy and Charlotte depleted their family savings to fight the good fight against their better funded opponent. Sadly, but not unexpectedly, Andy lost the election.

In the Times-Dispatch, Randy Hallman quoted Charlotte: "We knew it was coming, but it was a great experience. Andy said it was as good as getting a Ph.D."

After his brush with politics, Andy was hired by Reynolds Metals Co. as a marketing and recycling officer. He also headed their government relations department, rising to the rank of Vice President. When family scion J. Sargeant Reynolds Sr. ran successfully for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, Andy took a year off from his corporate career to serve as Campaign Manager. The Reynolds family so embraced Andy's commitment, values and work that, after his retirement, he was one of the very few non-family members asked to serve on the Board of one of the Reynolds' family foundations. He also was on call as speech-writer whenever one or another of the Reynolds' clan was asked to deliver a public presentation about their family's business and political heritage.

Truth be told, we always thought Andy was all ours. His commitment and attention were so focused, he made you feel that way. It was nice to be reminded in his obituary that he had also served as President of the Metro Richmond YMCA, on the Boards of the Library of Virginia and J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College Foundation, on the Screening Committee of the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame, as an active alum of Washington and Lee, and as a Trustee at St. Matthew's Episcopal.

We will miss Andy more that I can express in this blog. For those of you who didn't know him, he was an exceptional man--smart, kind, well spoken, a big forceful man's man with a true compassion for those less fortunate. He also loved theatre, and we loved him back.

Our hearts go out to our dear Charlotte. We will dedicate our upcoming production of Scorched Earth to Andy's memory--a perfect fit. And we will try our best to honor the legacy that he left for us and for everyone else in our diverse community.

--Bruce Miller

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