When you say something like that it always appears to be some made up thing to announce a new product, a new movie, or the death of a dictator somewhere in the world. This time, for a bunch of us, it really is the end of an era.
This morning, Gerry Lenfest, Philanthropist, cable entrepreneur, and successful human being passed away. Gerry was always an optimist and a progressive person (not in the political sense). He always had his door open to speak with him about the support he was giving to many young people, enabling them to go to college.
Gerry’s time as a philanthropist is co-terminus with Andy McKelvey, owner of Monster.com. Although Andy passed away in 2008, he was of the same sort of person. His views of change always centered on individuals, rather than systems. He and Gerry did communicate with each other during those contemporaneous years. It was only 2 or 3 times, when Carol and I wanted something from each of them.
We began working with both of them in May of the year 2000. We got called by each, asking to start scholarship programs for rural students. Gerry wanted to start early be giving 8th graders a chance to go to well-known prep schools. Carol and I were not too enthused about doing that. We were public school people and were not shy about telling Gerry that. He asked us, as a favor to visit one of the schools with some local school superintendents. We did and became fans of the schools.
Our program lasted for about 8 years and we sent about 100 students to prep schools. The overwhelming majority did well enough to go to college. He then started another program to send students directly from high school to college. Carol and I set up the program and it was run by another person. It is still running and has reached about 500 or more students.
Andy’s program went from being a tristate effort (New York, West Va and PA). It focused on entrepreneurial students in rural areas who were first generation. Andy later created a nationwide program for entrepreneurial students. Carol and I helped to choose the first 10 scholars. Andy’s program touched about 1,000 students.
We are still in touch with many of the scholars. They even visit us sometime. If you go onto the McKelvey site, will see many of them with their children. It is so wonderfully gratifying. You can see how we felt about that era. Although Gerry and Andy are gone, their legacy remains in the souls of many of those who the affected.
Bless you Gerry and bless you Andy for all the things you have done.