Richard “Dick” F. MacPherson, age 86, passed away on August 8, 2017. He died peacefully in Syracuse, New York surrounded by family.

Coach Mac was born in Old Town, Maine on November 4, 1930, to Hugh and Ludovic (Moreau) MacPherson. He was the eleventh of twelve children. He attended Old Town High School, graduating in 1948. After serving in the United States Air Force, Mac graduated from Springfield College, where he played on the football team as a center and linebacker. At Springfield, he met the love of his life, Sandra. They were married in 1958, beginning Mac’s 58 years as a loving, devoted husband. 

Mac was the head coach of the UMass Minutemen from 1971 to 1977, during which time the team went from a struggling program to winners of the Boardwalk Bowl. He won four Yankee Conference championships and twice earned New England Coach of the Year honors. He then went to the Cleveland Browns, leaving there in 1981 when he accepted the favorite job of his life, head coach of the Syracuse Orangemen. At Syracuse, Coach Mac’s tenure included the 1987 undefeated season, five bowl appearances (four of which he won), and every single Coach of the Year honor given in 1987. Mac was then named head coach of the New England Patriots in 1991. He retired with 111 wins as a college head coach, and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009.

To Coach Mac, the most important pillars of life were faith and family. A lifelong Catholic, Mac was known for his rosary beads, daily missals and warm greetings. He loved golf, bridge, Time magazine and watching his grandchildren play football, row crew and cheerlead. More than anything, he loved caring for people and sharing his joyful love with those around him, family and stranger alike.

A proud Mainer with an accent to prove it, Coach Mac came to happily call Syracuse his home. He enthusiastically supported the Salvation Army, the Joslin Diabetes Center, and numerous other community charities. He was thrilled to lead Syracuse’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade as Grand Marshall in 2010.

He is survived by his wife Sandra, his daughters,Maureen MacPherson and Janet Sweeney (Greg), and four grandchildren: Macky MacPherson, Cameron MacPherson, Suzy MacPherson, and Molly Sweeney. 

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Joslin Diabetes Center, c/o Upstate Foundation 750 E Admas St. Syracuse, NY 13210.

Calling hours will take place on Thursday, August 10th from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Funeral services will take place on Friday, August 11th at 2:00 p.m. Both events are at Hendricks Chapel and are open to the public. Condolences may expressed to the family at

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