Bob Letendre ’58, Harlan Lang ’58, and Paul O’Day ’58, Hon ’97 first became friends at American International College. After graduation, they went their separate ways, but decades later they all found themselves together again. Now, in the wake of the recent passing of his friends, Letendre has helped endow a scholarship in the name of the three alumni.
He says he hopes the Lang-Letendre-O’Day Scholarship will help students realize opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have available to them with the challenges present-day students face.
“We all came from working-class families,” Letendre explains. “AIC helped me directly because my father had died and it was a place I could get an education I could afford, so it was a good combo in many ways. I worked during the school year and the summer in order to afford AIC and, thanks to AIC, I was able to get into Cornell’s law school. These days it’s hard for people and families to deal with the cost of college. How can anyone afford it?”
When Lang fell ill before his death in 2016, his two AIC companions visited him regularly. Not long after, O’Day’s health also began to fail. Upon his death, O’Day’s wife, Nancy, requested donations be sent to AIC’s Alumni Office in lieu of flowers. The impact AIC played in her husband’s life, she says, made that decision easy.
The College received more than $3,000 in gifts made in Paul O’Day’s memory. Letendre decided to donate $22,000 in order to reach the $25,000 requirement to endow a scholarship. It was a surprise to the O’Day family.
“I was really kind of shocked. Bob called me and asked how much had been raised and I didn’t know what he planned to do. He took it upon himself,” Nancy O’Day says. “It certainly shows the bond of friendship they developed (at AIC). It was obviously a strong bond that stayed faithful and continuous.”