A self-made MacJannet devotee
When Donald and Charlotte MacJannet donated the Prieuré in Talloires to Tufts University for a European campus in 1978, Rocky Carzo had been athletic director at Tufts for five years but had never set foot in France. Rocky was 50 when he first visited Talloires in 1982. Donald MacJannet, then 88, charged him with a special mission.
“I want you to bring some life to this place,” Donald said. “They’re just doing academics. They’re not paying any attention to the rest of the body.” Thus began Rocky’s long relationship with Talloires and the MacJannet Foundation, as well as a series of idiosyncratic MacJannet-style traditions that survive to this day.
The first of these was the MacJannet Games, whose events required not only physical prowess but also mental acumen and teamwork, not to mention a good grasp of local geography (one event was a relay race through the streets and hills of Talloires).
At roughly the same time, Rocky started a “Tufts Alpine Fitness” class that evolved in 1982 into the annual St. Germain Pilgrimage, whose participants run, jog, bicycle, or drive cars up to the Benedictine monk’s chapel high up in the hills above Talloires.
Although Rocky retired as Tufts athletic director in 1999 after 26 years, he remained active with both Tufts and the MacJannet Foundation almost up to his death this year on January 16 at age 89. As perhaps the only member of the MacJannet community who first encountered Donald and Charlotte in middle age, he brought a unique appreciation of their values.
When the Olympics came
I was the Tufts European Center’s director in the late 1980s when Albertville was chosen as the site of the 1992 Winter Olympics. Since Albertville was just a half-hour drive from Talloires, I immediately began plotting a way to involve the Prieuré. Rocky Carzo, then Tufts athletic director as well as a member of the European Center faculty each summer, became my natural ally. With the University’s support, he and I made a special trip from Medford to Talloires to meet U.S. Olympic Committee members and host them for several days of visiting Olympic sites and introducing them to the Prieuré. As a result, the committee members chose the Prieuré as their official headquarters, and the people of Talloires opened their hearts and hotels and restaurants to U.S. Olympic athletes and their families. Rocky and several current and former MacJannet Foundation trustees were on hand for the Olympics, and the town of Talloires was featured worldwide during the extensive mass media Olympic coverage.
‘You can do it’
In the realms of “mind, body, and spirit,” Donald and Charlotte MacJannet championed physical well-being and athleti- cism— not to mention competition. Rocky Carzo bonded with them as an advocate for fitness and team building— a coach whose cause was the construction of character.
His can-do spirit was infectious and inspiring. He helped us climb mountains by putting one foot in front of the other. Looking up at La Tournette, I can hear him saying, “You can do it; just take the first step.”
I met Rocky only after joining the MacJannet Foundation in 1996 but quickly came to have the highest respect for his honesty, straightforwardness and infectious personal warmth. I especially appreciated the close relationship and superb advice I enjoyed during my presidency of the Foundation, when he provided much needed common sense and wise counsel as I was trying to manage the Foundation’s transition to the post-MacJannet period.
Magic and electric
He was a magic and electric personality.
Rocky was an indomitable spirit, a “North Star” for both athletes and colleagues. I remember his consistently wise counsel during my earliest days with the Foundation, when I worked to support Donald and Charlotte’s initiatives. His image stands alongside theirs when I think about their legacy of peaceful service.
—John F. McJennett III
Pepping up facility meetings
Rocky truly reinforced the MacJannetness in all of us. And how many liberal arts colleges can say that their athletic director elevated the deliberations of arts and sciences faculty meetings on a broad range of topics, including academic policy? I wish I had some videotape of those marvelous occasions. We’d be mired in stuffy discourse; then Rocky would stand up and humorously break through our stilted nonsense, steering the professoriate to wiser decisions, always in the direction of trying to do a better job at educating the whole person.
1/4/2023 10:24:29 pm
Thank you Rocky for getting me up the mountain to St. German in 1989....I always remember your running with me and saying without a doubt..."you can do this"....and I did. I remember that always. Jerri Husch, PhD (Tufts, Sociology Prof 1984-1990)
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