On September 28, St. Paul's celebrated Martin D. "Mitch" Tullai and the 50-plus years he served St. Paul's as a teacher, coach and all-around role model for hundreds of students. The School was delighted to announce the
creation of the Martin D. Tullai Scholar-Athlete Scholarship, started in honor of Mr. Tullai by a group of alumni grateful for the impact he has had on their lives.
Mr. Tullai and his wife arrived at St. Paul's in 1953, a year after the School moved to Brooklandville from its Mt. Washington campus; their four daughters would graduate from St. Paul's School for Girls. Mr. Tullai's duties, in addition to teaching and coaching, included serving as athletic director and overseeing the boarders, and he occasionally answered a midnight summons to Brooklandwood to comfort English teacher and mansion resident Albert Cauffman, who feared he'd seen the ghost of Capt. Isaac Emerson roaming the corridors of Brooklandwood.
Charley Mitchell '73, Director of Alumni Relations, kicked off Tullai Day with an assembly talk to students in the Middle and Upper Schools, "Tullai: The Man Behind the Name." Shows of hands by the boys confirmed the suspicion that, while most knew the name, few had actually met the man. Mr. Tullai was a probing, engaging history teacher who excited students about American history and the stories that help illuminate why the past is such an important part of the present. (Few of his students have forgotten his tales of Hannibal Hamlin of Maine, Lincoln's first vice president.) Young alumni especially remember Mr. Tullai as a Lincoln scholar who published articles on our 15th president and appeared as a convincing facsimile of him at historical events.
In the afternoons, as head football coach, Mr. Tullai focused on the fundamentals that gave us a leg up on much of the competition—a style that, over 41 years, produced 209 wins, ten championships and a number of seasons with only one loss—along with the occasional whack with a clipboard on the helmet of a player who wasn't quite with the program.
And perhaps most importantly, the St. Paul's community knew Mr. Tullai as a man who over his decades on our campus exemplified the virtues of the St. Paul's mission that we strive to inculcate in our students today.
Present for the festivities in the Ward Center were alumni from around the nation, faculty, staff and friends, who listened to remarks by master-of-ceremonies Charley Mitchell and scooped up Tullai Towels and "Team Tullai" car magnets and scarfed up cupcakes featuring his image. Charley led the crowd in acknowledging Mr. Tullai's recent birthday and read aloud a citation from Maryland Governor Larry Hogan extending best wishes to "a wonderful and beloved Marylander on his 90th birthday."
Following the program, alumni joined Mr. Tullai for a group photo while the students, enjoying a campus-wide "Blue-Gold" dress-down day in honor of the occasion, formed a 40-yard long gauntlet outside to cheer him as he exited the Center for the football game vs. MIAA B Conference rival Archbishop Curley on Tullai Field in Mitchell Stadium. Just prior to kickoff, the Crusader captains presented Mr. Tullai with a commemorative football--signed by the entire team--followed shortly thereafter by a second gift, a 40-22 triumph on the field where he taught so many young men to embrace hardwork and trust one another.
Many alumni considered him a surrogate father during their student days, either because their fathers had died when they were young, or they were boarders and therefore away from their families for extended periods. Mitch Tullai embodied the ideas expressed in our school mission statement, long before anyone wrote that down: Seek Truth, Knowledge and Excellence...Live by Faith, Compassion and Integrity.
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