Remembering Sandy McDonnell
Sanford McDonnell

Sanford N. McDonnell

Mark Hyatt and Joe Mazzola represented at the funeral service for Chairman Emeritus and inspirational leader, Mr. Sandy McDonnell.

The service was held the small but very beautiful Ladue Chapel Presbyterian Church in St. Louis.  Everyone in attendance was struck by the beauty of the service. Beyond respectfully mourning the loss of Sandy, it was a true celebration of and thanksgiving for his life.

Sandy attended Princeton University, served on the Manhattan Project during WWII and, after graduate school, went on to work for his uncle at McDonnell Aircraft.  He started at the very lowest levels of the company and eventually worked his way up the ladder to become the CEO.

Sandy McDonnell was a remarkably successful businessman and leader by any measure. However, what really set him apart, and what his family members spoke about at his funeral, was that Sandy dedicated his life to character education. He started CHARACTERplus in St. Louis and was founding chairman of in 1993. He served as Chairman Emeritus until the day he died on March 19, 2012.

Sandy was also a big fan of scouting, recognizing how it helped to develop good character, too.  He was National President of Boy Scouts of America and even used portions of the scout oath to develop an ethics program for his company.  The oath covers areas like doing your best, helping others, and remaining morally straight. Sandy helped his son achieve Eagle Scout (and, along the way, actually met all the requirements himself).  Realizing what a great achievement it was for any young man, Sandy signed and sent over 25, 000 congratulatory letters to new Eagle scouts over the years.

Sandy was also a person of great faith.  His grandson, an Air Force Academy graduate and active duty military pilot, shared several of Sandy’s favorite scriptures at the funeral service.  Each one related to good character and living one’s life right—for example, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.”

“Sandy McDonnell was a kind, decent, caring and wonderful man,” Hyatt said. “He was known more for the person he was than the many great things he achieved.  Along his life’s journey, he affected many lives in positive ways and, along the way, made our world a better place.  All of us at mourn Sandy’s passing.

“However, like everyone at his funeral service in St. Louis, we also celebrate and give thanks for his friendship, leadership and love.  I assure Sandy’s family and all constituents and friends who loved Sandy, that we will continue the good and noble work he started by re-doubling our efforts to improve schools and developing people of good character for our nation and world.”

If you would like make a donation in Sandy McDonnell’s honor, please donate now, or contact Sora Wondra at or call 202-296-7743.