John Driscoll ’62, who oversaw Wesleyan alumni relations programs for more than three decades, died after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease on June 12. He was 82 years old.
A resident of Cromwell, Connecticut and a former longtime resident of Middletown, Driscoll was the eldest son of the late James Douglas Driscoll and the late Loretta (Haggerty) Driscoll. Born in Brooklyn, New York on March 4, 1940, he was raised in Westchester County, although he spent many summers with his Fitzgerald cousins in Marblehead, Massachusetts. A graduate of Pleasantville High School, John received his BA from Wesleyan as a first class member of the College of Social Studies.
Driscoll boasted of being the worst quarterback to play under legendary Wesleyan football coach Norm Daniels. Over the next 20 years, he studied as a Jesuit seminarian and earned a master’s degree in political science from Fordham University, taught at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY, and was employed as a civil servant for the U.S. Office of Education and Civil Aeronautics Board in Washington, DC In Buffalo, he met Gina Lucchesi; they married in 1969 and started a family before finally returning to his alma mater in 1982. There, as Wesleyan alumni director for 33 years, he found his calling: to connect people and build community. An engaging speaker, storyteller and writer, Driscoll exuded warmth, good humor and could find common ground and shared interests with everyone. One of his favorite roles was teaching the “Wesleyan Fight Song” to new students.
Upon his retirement in 2015, he was recognized as Director Emeritus of Graduates. He and Gina Driscoll were awarded the Raymond E. Baldwin Medal for Extraordinary Service to Wesleyan in 2017. Wesleyan Cardinal Football superfan, John Driscoll attended as many games and practices as he could. His “Let’s go, Wes!” at full throat was unmistakable behind the end zone. A thrill of his life was the 2019 naming of Driscoll Gate at Andrus Field in his honor.
“John had the great gift of making all members of the Wesleyan community feel welcome and valued. We will cherish him fondly in our memories as an inspiration and a reminder of what it means to act with generosity of spirit,” wrote Wesleyan President Michael Roth.
In his professional and family life, Driscoll was often late because he stopped for a long chat with someone on the way. In Middletown, he was a member of Kiwanis and the Conversational Club. He researched Middletown, Wesleyan, and Civil War history avidly. Before Parkinson’s disease, he was an avid runner, completing three marathons and countless shorter road races. He loved to travel, play golf with Gina and her son Douglas, and was a firm believer in the power of a short nap, anytime, anywhere. He enjoyed a good cane and gave nicknames to his family and friends. In addition to Gina, John Driscoll is survived by his children, David Driscoll (Willow Cheeley), Laura (James) Taft and Douglas Driscoll; his sister-in-law Grace Haymes and her family; grandchildren Lenora, Clara and Eli; two nieces, a nephew and cousins Fitzgerald and Driscoll. He was predeceased by his brother and sister-in-law, Henry Driscoll and Susan (Dahlgren) Driscoll.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Freeman Driscoll Endowed Wesleyan Scholarship Fund and sent to: Wesleyan University, Office of Advancement c/o Ann Bertini, 291 Main Street, Middletown, CT 06457. To share memories or express condolences online, visit his obituary page.
A memorial service in honor of John Driscoll will be held at 10 a.m., Saturday, November 5 in the Memorial Chapel during Homecoming/Family Weekend.