Gratitude Lasts a Lifetime for Bernie Spirito ’77
For some alumni donors, a chance meeting with a former classmate can rekindle their feelings of gratitude for their alma mater and expand their understanding of the ways their philanthropy can change the lives of students.
Bernie Spirito ’77 was vacationing in Florida last year when he had lunch with fraternity brother Frank Reis ’69, who mentioned his own recent decision to create a Partners in Scholarship fund at Bryant. Bernie had been reflecting on Bryant’s impact on his life and career, and when he returned from his trip he worked with the Bryant team to create the Bernard Spirito ’77 Partners in Scholarship fund through a generous bequest. “I hope that I can help someone like me, a young person who wants to go to Bryant and needs some additional support to afford tuition,” he says.
Growing up in Providence in a single-parent household, Bernie was good in math but struggled in school until his mother, a bookkeeper, found a way to enroll him at nearby La Salle Academy. He says now that he had been hanging around with the wrong crowd, and he remains grateful for the suit-and-tie structure and discipline at La Salle that kept him from heading down the wrong path. After graduating, his mother steered him toward accounting and he enrolled at Bryant.
Acknowledging Bryant’s recent growth and rising reputation with a smile, Bernie says, “I don’t think I would have been able to get admitted to Bryant today.” His Bryant scholarship fund will prioritize students with financial need who attended La Salle Academy and who are studying accounting. During his years at Bryant, he was active in campus life, becoming fraternity president and serving on the student programming board. “At Bryant, I grew so much as a person,” Bernie says.
After a career that included 28 years as Vice President of Finance at Bassette Printers, LLC, Bernie is currently the Chief Financial Officer at the Springfield Museums, a group of five museums in Massachusetts that includes The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum, featuring the work of children’s book author and Springfield native Theodor Geisel.
Bernie is reminded of the Dr. Seuss book Oh, the Places You’ll Go when he says, “There are a lot of different ways to get where you want to go. I was fortunate that Bryant prepared me well.” Now, he says he hopes that his planned gift will help to prepare another student for success. “It’s my turn to give back.”