Celebrating the Luck of the Irish—and Passing it on
Francis Patrick “Frank” Barron ’69 considers himself lucky—and counts his experience at Fairfield Prep as a major marker on that path of good fortune. Thanks to a generous $1 million gift and an additional $5 million through his estate plans, generations of future Prep students will have the chance to be similarly lucky.
Frank traces his luck all the way back to Ireland in 1914 when his grandfather was fortunate enough to emigrate to America and find good-paying work with only a grammar school education. That luck continued through his father, Patrick Francis Barron, also called Frank. Thanks to his abilities, the tuition benefits of the GI Bill, and the Jesuits at Boston College High School, Frank Sr. became the first in his extended family to graduate from college. He went on to a successful career in broadcast sales, and together with his wife Audrey, put six sons through Fairfield Prep.
“I’m sure my father got up every morning, pinched himself, and said, ‘I can’t believe how lucky I’ve been,’” recounts Frank, the oldest of those six sons. To thank their parents on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary, the Barron brothers endowed the Patrick Francis and Audrey Barron Scholarship in 2000.
An Inauspicious Start
Fifty-seven years ago, in 1965 when Frank started his freshman year at Fairfield Prep, he never dreamed he’d be that grateful. As he recalls, he was a lackluster student whose only ambition was to go to Greenwich High with all his friends. His father made it clear, however, that going to Fairfield Prep was not open for debate.
“Within a week after starting, I realized that my father was right and I was wrong,” Frank recalls. “Prep was the right place for me. It changed the course of my young life just when it needed changing, and inspired me to strive to do my best.” After graduating from Prep, Frank earned a bachelor’s at Harvard College and then a JD from Harvard Law School. He began practicing law at Cravath, Swaine & Moore in Manhattan, where he became a partner in 1985. He retired in 2014. Now, with time to give back, Frank serves on Prep’s Board of Governors and chairs the Advancement committee.
Frank has always been keenly aware of his immigrant roots and how far his family has come. He tells the story of the first time his grandmother, who emigrated to the U.S. in 1916, first set foot on a college campus. It was 1973 when Frank graduated from Harvard College. “My father told me that, as she entered Harvard Yard, she looked around in awe and, with her eyes glistening, quietly whispered in her soft Irish brogue, ‘Frankie, this is a great country.’”
“Hers is a sentiment to remember when, as inevitably happens, there are things about America that are disappointing or discouraging,” Frank continues. “We forget sometimes that, in the course of human history, the history of our country and its experiment in self-governance is the blink of an eye. Our experiment is both youthful and fragile; its success is not inevitable. We must protect and nurture it with hope and devotion, but also with vigilance and determination.”
“This has long been part of the Jesuit mission. We need to continue giving more young boys the chance to receive a sound education, be inspired, go on to live lives of purpose—and then pass on that good fortune to the next generation.”
— Frank Barron ’69“One of the best and most important ways we can do that is by striving to ensure that children whose families don’t have the means to purchase high-quality education nevertheless have a chance at obtaining it. This, in my view, has long been part of the Jesuit mission. We need to continue giving more young boys the chance that my father was given: to receive a sound education, be inspired, go on to live lives of purpose—and then pass on that good fortune to the next generation. In doing so, we serve not only the interests of the individual boys we help, but the interests of our community, which suffers great loss when human potential is wasted.”
“And so this is my philanthropic passion,” Frank concludes, explaining the motivation at the root of his scholarship: “helping kids who haven’t been born lucky to develop their talents and prepare for higher education and success in life.”
Inspired to join Frank in supporting Fairfield Prep, or including us in your will? Contact the Prep Advancement team at 203-254-4237 or email@example.com.
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