Frank McCulloch was a former reporter and editor at newspapers in San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles and Reno, and a heralded war correspondent for Time magazine.
He was a formidable editor and a beloved mentor whose career impacted countless journalists and publishers.
Born in 1920 on a ranch in Fernley, Nevada, McCulloch studied journalism at the University of Nevada at Reno. He loved baseball — he’d follow the San Francisco Giants to his last day — and he might have pursued going pro had journalism not stolen his affection.
He became editor of the college newspaper, The Sagebrush. Also while at UNR he met and fell in love with Jakie Caldwell.
McCulloch graduated with honors in 1941 and promptly went to work as a reporter for United Press in San Francisco. He and Caldwell were wed the following year. They had three children, traveled the world and were inseparable for six decades.
McCulloch served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1942 to 1945. He served as a reporter for the Reno Evening Gazette from 1946 to 1953, then joined Time-Life News Service.
He spent two stints with Time-Life, from 1952 to 1960, and from 1964 to 1972. In between, he was managing editor of the Los Angeles Times.
Upon leaving Time-Life in 1972, he founded an education magazine in Palo Alto. Three years later, he joined The Sacramento Bee in 1975 as its editor, and he joined the board of The Bee’s parent company, McClatchy Newspapers. In 1980, he was appointed executive editor of the firm’s five newspapers in California, Washington state and Alaska.
After he retired from McClatchy in 1985, McCulloch became managing editor at the San Francisco Examiner. Cal Press named him the Justus F. Craemer Newspaper Executive of the Year during his tenure there.
McCulloch received the Society of Professional Journalists Freedom of Information Award in 1983. In 2009, The Center for Investigative Reporting honored McCulloch with a Founders Muckraker Award, citing “his passion for investigative reporting” by noting he “was named in seven libel suits — all unsuccessful — during his McClatchy years that helped establish protections from which journalists still benefit today.”
“In retirement, McCulloch confided to friends that he still dreamed of being back in the newsroom,” The Press Democrat in Santa Rosa said in his obituary, “and he didn’t stray too far from it, continuing to consult with newspapers, talk with journalism students and lend his expertise to the Center for Investigative Reporting in the Bay Area.”
Hall of Fame inductees are selected annually by a committee appointed by the California Press Foundation. They recognize career achievements of weekly and daily publishers in California who were important and influential in their era, as judged by their peers in the association. The write-ups are a historical and journalistic snapshot in time and not official biographies.