Just Passing the Gifts Along
After getting 60 years of work out of his SC degree, Larry Fortier figures it’s about time to pave the way for the next aspiring grad.
The Air Medal he was awarded for combat missions flown over Japan at the height of WWII might begin the list. A stellar career as recreation manager for the towns of Farmington, Connecticut and Watertown, Massachusetts, might follow. The fact that he enjoyed such an excellent reputation in the field that a senior official from the Gillette Company heard about him, called him out of the blue, and requested that Fortier come serve as the national company’s head of recreation and fitness programs, well, that might appear really high on the list, too. (He went on to serve the company for 25 years, overseeing more than 40 programs.) But almost nothing in Larry Fortier’s life makes him as proud, or causes him to feel better about his life, than the creation of the Larry and Isabelle Fortier Scholarship Fund at Springfield College this year.
Although it’s been sixty years since the acceptance letter came in the mail, Fortier can still recall the shock he felt at being admitted to SC following the war, solely on the basis of a recommendation from a professor at Richter Junior College in Maine. (That, and perhaps that Air Medal thing… ) He shakes his head, and, still incredulous, says: “They didn’t even make me take the SATs!”
The young Navy gunnery pilot set to work on his degree in Recreation and Camping, “and the education I received at Springfield College was so fine, it served me the rest of my life,” he says solemnly. “It allowed me to go on to have an amazing and truly satisfying career.” It was also a very, very long career. Post-retirement from Gillette in 1987, Fortier was tagged to serve as Coordinator of Activities at the Senior Center in Needham, Massachusetts, “and I had 100 people signing up the first week,” he chuckles. “So I guess having used the education for some 60 years, it’s about time I start giving back.”
And giving back, he is. Fortier has not only established the Larry and Isabelle Fortier Scholarship Fund to aid future Recreation Department applicants in perpetuity; he has also made significant contributions to Leadership for the 21st Century: The Campaign for Springfield College, both now and in his estate planning, gifts that help support The Kresge Challenge.
“Students who want to serve the good are attracted to Springfield College, and if we want to support them, if we want to support the good, then it’s up to people like me and you to make sure they can get here,” he concludes. “I can’t think of a better way to say thank you, than just passing these gifts of my life along.”
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