St. Paul, Minn. – W. John Driscoll of Sunfish Lake, Minn., died peacefully Saturday, December 22, 2012, at home with his family. A long-time supporter of Macalester College, Driscoll fought Parkinson’s for many years. He was 83. 

Driscoll, a member of the Macalester Board of Trustees from 1966-1978, served as Chair of the Board from 1971 to 1974 and was an emeritus Board member beginning in 2000.

President Brian Rosenberg said in the 1970’s, Driscoll helped save the college financially.  “It is no exaggeration to say that he was among a handful of individuals who rescued the college from very dire financial straits during that time, and for that and his many years of service and generosity, we all owe him an enormous debt of gratitude.”

A member of the St. Paul Academy class of 1947, Driscoll went on to graduate from Yale University. He served in Korea as a Marine Corps officer and rose to the rank of captain before his discharge in 1953.

Paul Aslanian was Macalester’s chief financial officer in the fall of 1974. He said Driscoll was absolutely critical in terms of giving the college a foothold on responsible financial management.

“He helped us in an extraordinary fashion in a time of real need,” said Aslanian. “His willingness to put his shoulder to the wheel to help with Macalester’s finances went well beyond his own personal or family generosity.  He was much more than that to the college.”

Driscoll retired as president of the Rock Island Company of St. Paul. In 1967 he co-founded and was chairman of the NHL’s Minnesota North Stars.

From 1978 to 1986 he was chairman of the First National Bank in Palm Beach, Florida. He served on the Board of Directors of several corporations including the St. Paul Company, Comshare, Inc., Northern States Power Company, and the Weyerhaeuser Company. He also served as a life trustee on the boards of the Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts, and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum Foundation.

A memorial service at the House of Hope Church in St. Paul is planned for 11 am on January 11, 2013.

Macalester College, founded in 1874, is a national liberal arts college with a full-time enrollment of 2,035 students. Macalester is nationally recognized for its long-standing commitment to academic excellence, internationalism, multiculturalism, and civic engagement. Learn more at

December 27 2012

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