It is with great sadness that I report the passing of John McCulloch. As many of you know, John was a dear friend of mine, the co-editor of Citroënvie for many years and an executive of Citroën AutoClub Canada.
John passed away late at night on November 15 from septic shock. He was admitted to hospital the previous Sunday and was being treated as a result of myelodysplasia, a debilitating type of cancer in which the bone marrow does not make enough healthy blood cells. He had been coping with it for the past few years.
John is to be cremated and a private service will be held for immediate family. A memorial “celebration of life” will be held at a later date. In the meantime his wife, Chris Deja, deeply mourns the loss of her loving partner and best friend of 42 years. She asks that if you would like to make a donation, please support The Toronto Symphony Orchestra. John had a passion for going to their concerts and wanted to see their continued success. Donations can be made here: https://tinyurl.com/ybz43xu5
John Micheal McCulloch was born on November 9, 1948 in Toronto to Elizabeth McCulloch and Dr. John McCulloch (both pre-deceased). He is survived by his siblings, Patricia MCculloch, Robert McCulloch (Linda), Jane McCulloch (John Hunter) and Margo Sheppard (Larry).
While studying John took on summer jobs that included working in mines in northern Ontario, working on a farm near his parents cottage and loading docks in downtown Toronto. He also very much enjoyed baby sitting. Sandy, a very close friend, is someone that John had started to babysit when she was just weeks old.
Chris recalls that she and John met at Victoria College at the University of Toronto. They were both studying French and Latin and got to know each other over the course of their studies.
After graduating from the University of Toronto and OISE (the library of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the U of T), he joined the Languages department of Nelson High School in Burlington. Initially he taught French and Latin, then expanded his subjects as part of the the French Immersion offering. With his strong leadership skills John progressed to become the Department Head. His patience and encouraging approach to engaging students earned him a respect and reputation such that students years on would contact him and thank him for setting them on a course of arts, humanities or sciences in which they’ve become highly successful. Even with problem students, and though John would wax on about the challenges he faced, he applied a patient and encouraging approach to set them on a positive life course.
I met John in the mid 1990’s when he and I were both enthusiastic about Citroëns but just cutting our teeth at actually owing one. Like me, John started off with a 2CV and his collection grew to include a variety of Cits as his appreciation for attributes like engineering, design and comfort led to acquiring a D Special, another 2CV (this time a Truckette that he loved to run around Oakville in), an Ami 6, another D (a D Super), and a Traction Avant.
Actually John’s love of classic cars began way before he started collecting Citroëns.
His father, a prominent doctor in Toronto, had what John described a masochistic love for British cars and drove various Austins and Rovers in the 1950’s through to the mid 1970’s. John would regale instances where they would break down at various times, and require what seemed like endless, engine, gearbox and electrical repairs. Nevertheless he carried on his father’s tradition of British cars by taking the most practical approach to owning one – a simple but absolutely lovely Morris Minor.
One other automobile that was his pride and joy is a 1925 Ford Model T that his father originally purchased and has stayed in the family ever since. John had been custodian of it for the past 40 years and kept it in pristine condition.
While involving himself in Citroëns, John also took an active role in Citroën Autoclub Canada applying his literary skills to editing and expanding the Club newsletters along with me in the early 2000’s. That effort led to a 15 year publishing commitment and the evolution of Citroënvie. (A more detailed history of that era can be read here: https://citroenvie.com/about-us/)
John also served as past President of ACI (Amicale Citroën Internationale) and on the Board of Directors of that institution for many years. Stephan Joest, current president of ACI, recalls that John had been representing the Citroën fans and friends located in Canada and Northern Americas for many years. On Dec. 6, 2003 when the very first larger get-together of worldwide representatives took place in the Citroën Conservatoire to define the ACI Statutes and the legal framework, John expressed his vision about what’s relevant for him and the heritage of the brand which had left the continent decades ago. Since 2004 when the ACI was formally established as a non-profit association according to the French Law of 1901, he took an active role in the ACI.
At the ACI’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Feb. 11, 2006 he was elected to join the ACI Board and later onwards took a role as Delegate Coach to especially connect to those markets which are less “visible” in the global community. He had been nominated as ACI President after the AGM 2011 and continued to head the organization until August 2014 when he retired from his Board engagements, yet still acted as representative for the ACI in Canada.
John always looked forward to participating in Citroën AutoClub Canada events be they local outings, trips to Carlisle in May for the annual Citroën gathering and of course a yearly trip to Citroën Rendezvous every Father’s Day weekend to enjoy the camaraderie of all that gathered as well as the food and shopping that Saratoga Springs, NY had to offer.
When John wasn’t sitting down with a good book, he would pursue another passion of his in the kitchen – cooking! He absolutely loved fine dining and he and Chris would experiment with gourmet meals and seek great restaurants at home and abroad. Get John taking about restaurants and he would go on with superlative after superlative about the meals that he and Chris enjoyed. John particularly liked trips to Europe with Paris being his favourite destination, not just for seeing endless varieties of Citroens, attending Retromobile and dealing his ACI duties but to partake in the cuisine that the city offered. I always found his unbound enthusiasm about food infectious!
On two occasions John and Chris hosted the Citroën Autoclub Canada at John’s parent’s cottage on Lake Simcoe just south of Orillia. And he and Chris were always willing to offer their home in Oakville as a gathering place for Citroën Autoclub Canada outings west of Toronto with a breakfast of fresh baked treats, coffee, tea and juice provided for all before setting out for the day.
John’s long white beard and jolly manner contributed to his magnetic appeal with children. When members of the Citroën Club brought their kids along, many literally latched onto him. Some adults were quite fascinated as well. I recall one night at Rendezvous in Saratoga Springs, some of us stayed up rather late recounting Citroën moments while having a few beers on the second floor balcony of the Saratoga Springs Motel. We were getting rather noisy and had woken up John who had retired for the night in a room a few doors away. We heard the door open and he stuck his head out with a finger to his lips simply uttering “shush”. At that point one of the ladies with us exclaimed “Santa Claus!” John immediately retreated back into the room but it took us 15 minutes to convince her that she hadn’t seen Saint Nick!
John’s giving nature was very much evident in his dedication to being a mentor. He accompanied three of his young protégées to the Children’s Symphony for many years, further developing their interest in music.
I also have great admiration about how John dealt with the diagnosis that he had an incurable disease and that his quality of life was going to compromised by requiring regular blood transfusions to stay alive. Naturally this considerably constrained his energy and his ability to engage in typical activities. Nevertheless John made the most of his time, taking the approach that it was what it was and death was an inevitable outcome for us all. If he was speaking about someone else that had passed on he would always quip that they had fallen off the twig. And so it is with his hearted take on the subject we can celebrate John’s life and realize that having known him we are far better people for the privilege.
– George Dyke
The ACI has posted on their website a tribute to John. You can read that here: https://www.amicale-citroen-internationale.org/2017/in-memoriam-john-mcculloch/