Pioneers. That’s what Dr. Robert Conti ’51, P’90 and his fellow classmates felt like as members of the first class at Fairfield University.
“Initially, it was a bit of a shock,” Robert recalls. “We were mostly a group of young, relatively untested and immature 17- and 18- year-olds, fresh from high school, meeting with a group of mature, battle-tested veterans who had recently returned from service. But after only a very short time, we easily mingled together, many becoming some of my best friends.”
In the years since his graduation in 1951, Robert has maintained a strong presence at Fairfield University. He established The Robert F. Conti Family Scholarship in 1994 to provide financial aid to students in the University’s pre-med program. In addition, he has been a longstanding member of the President’s Circle, the Golden Stags and the Bellarmine Society. He has served as a reunion committee chair and an alumni chapter president. Robert’s love of Fairfield runs deep in his family; his daughter, Kim, and two nephews also graduated from Fairfield.
Robert recently created a Charitable Remainder Unitrust to benefit himself and Fairfield. The proceeds from the trust will eventually be applied to the scholarship he established. The concept of the trust was introduced to Robert by his financial advisor, who was aware of Robert’s tax situation and charitable interests. By transferring appreciated assets into the trust, Robert was able to avoid paying any capital gains tax on the appreciation. He receives income from the trust each year as it is invested and grown. When Robert no longer receives the income, the funds remaining in the trust will pass to Fairfield.
In explaining why he chose to leave this type of gift to Fairfield, Robert says, “Fairfield gave me the opportunity to pursue my dream of becoming a radiologist and physician. It was the first step in my long journey, and I will forever be grateful. My Fairfield education gave me the moral compass and the necessary tools to achieve this goal and to have a most wonderful life experience. I feel so indebted to Fairfield and it has been one of the loves of my life.”
If he were to address this year’s graduating class, Robert would say, “I congratulate you on your success thus far. I would say you have a great foundation; now set your sights on a new goal, work hard to achieve whatever you desire, do not become discouraged by minor reversals, but always remember that love for your God, country, family and friends are the most important things in your life. Remember all who have helped you achieve what you have, and give back whatever you’re able to give.”
Robert and his wife, Jane, live in Florida. They have four children, sixteen grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Retirement has not slowed them down a bit. They have maintained an ebullient lifestyle filled with various activities such as golf, bowling, yachting and taking classes. In 2017, they celebrated 62 years of marriage.