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Family Members, SU Athletic Dept Remember Coach Mac for Integrity, Character more than Football

Syracuse University’s Athletic Department continues to reflect on the life and legacy of Dick MacPherson, who died Tuesday.  The department includes his grandsons, who offered some memories, along with the Athletic Director.  One quality they all seem to agree on is that Coach Mac was a genuine person who made everyone feel important, on and off the field.  Richard 'Macky' MacPherson says he was like a father and his interests went far beyond football.

Credit John Smith/WAER News
Macky MacPherson is now a coach on the SU football team under Head Coach Dino Babers

“We talked about gold more than we talked about football.  It was more morality, character, good judgment, working hard.  Those are things that I learned.  I didn’t learn how to snap a football from him.  I learned how to keep working at the things I needed to get better at.  He never coached me; he was always my grandfather.” 

MacPherson adds that former players have been reaching out to the family, expressing how much they loved him both as a coach and as a man. 

(More on Dick MacPherson's life and coaching legacy here)

He’s grateful by the community’s outpouring of sympathy.

“It’s been such a nice thing to see that so many people thought so highly of him.  I think if everyone can try to achieve that level of connection with people throughout their life, I think our world would be just a little bit better.” 

Coach Mac’s other grandson, Cameron MacPherson has also been touched by the community.

“I really think Syracuse is the best city in the world because of all the support Syracuse has shown.  My grandfather, Papa, he loved this city.  It means so much to me  and it means so much to our family that everyone is coming out.”

His grandfather told him how becoming a football player would build character.  However, the lessons didn’t end there.

Credit John Smith/WAER News
Cameron MacPherson also played football at SU.

“More than just through football, the way he interacted with people, the presence he was in the community and in our family, he was larger than life.  And a man of such integrity and character, I was awfully proud of and something I looked up to and hope to emulate.” 

Cameron MacPherson, who played football at Georgetown and Syracuse, recalls how his grandfather touched people in many ways.

Coach Mac is remembered for on-the-field success – a perfect season and several bowl game wins.  Athletic Director John Wildhack recalls the rare connection Coach Mac had on the community. 

“There’s a legacy here and his legacy lives forever, because of what he did, who he was and how he did it.  I mean who would think in today’s world that any coach and his wife after a big win would open their house to the town.  That doesn’t happen but that was Mac and that was Sandra, and that shows how genuine they were.” 

Wildhack says the team will find a way to honor Coach Mac’s legacy during the upcoming season. 

Calling hours for Dick MacPherson are Thursday, 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Hendricks Chapel at SU.  The funeral is Friday...also at Hendricks.  

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.
John Smith has been waking up WAER listeners for a long time as our Local Co-Host of Morning Edition with timely news and information, working alongside student Sportscasters from the Newhouse School.