Gary Lamoureaux, longtime leader at BCC, remembered as 'real champion'
PITTSFIELD — Gary Lamoureaux was always known as a welcoming presence at Berkshire Community College, a person who inspired students, and helped them achieve their goals.
"He was the guy people would look toward for guidance and inspiration," said former state Rep. Peter Larkin, who chaired BCC's board of trustees in 2010-11. "For many people, he was Berkshire Community College."
Lamoureaux, who served in several executive positions at BCC and mentored hundreds of students during his over 40 years at the college, died Saturday following a battle with prostate cancer. He was 76.
Lamoureaux joined BCC in 1972 as the college's first director of student activities. During his career, he also served as the college's acting president, interim president, acting director of personnel and dean of support services. He served in concurrent positions many times, and even taught psychology when he first came to the college. Lamoureaux retired in 2002 while serving as BCC's chief student affairs officer.
But he continued to work for BCC, serving as the liaison for activities, events and classes at the college's sites at the Intermodal Center on Columbus Avenue and later the Conte Federal Building on Center Street.
"He pretty much was Berkshire Community College," said current BCC President Ellen Kennedy, echoing Larkin's sentiments. "I don't mean that to sound trite. He was the quintessential dean of students. He cared about students no matter where they were and helped them move their lives to where they wanted them to be.
"When he came out of retirement he went to the Conte Building. He was only supposed to watch the building, but he set up a whole sense of campus in that place," Kennedy said. "He almost became a surrogate parent. Way above and beyond, that's just who he was."
Lamoureaux was also active in several community organizations, and was part of the team that organized the annual Josh Billings Runaground Triathlon, which will be held for the 43rd time in September. In 1999, Lamoureaux was named the third winner of the Esther Quinn Award, given annually by 1Berkshire for leaders in the business community whose volunteer contributions strengthen the Berkshires.
"He opened more doors for more people in Berkshire County," Larkin said. "He's the guy who introduced education to thousands.
"We've lost a real champion," he said.
Born in Greenfield, Lamoureaux grew up in Turners Falls, then spent four years in the Navy before graduating in 1967 from Greenfield Community College and in 1969 from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst with a bachelor's degree in recreational education.
Lamoureaux came to BCC at age 29 in August 1972 after serving as director of student activities at Northern Arizona University, where he also earned a master's degree in educational psychology.
He earned a doctorate in higher educational administration from UMass-Amherst in 1984.
John Bresnahan, the director of the Devanny-Condron Funeral Home in Pittsfield, said Lamoureaux mentored him when he was the president of BCC's student senate in 1973-74.
"That was the first class that went out to West Street," said Bresnahan, referring to BCC's West Street campus, which the college first occupied in the fall of 1972. "He brought college life to BCC with events like concerts and those kinds of things. As a commuter college, we didn't have that as much.
"He was a gentleman, No. 1," Bresnahan said. "He always had the best interests of the students at heart. He brought great energy to his positions there. As a person, he was a first-class guy who cared about friends and was always willing to help if he could."
Pittsfield attorney P. Keyburn Hollister chaired BCC's board of trustees when Lamoureaux stepped in to serve as the college's interim president after then-President Katherine Addy left the school for another job in 1994 without a successor in place. Hollister offered him the job.
"Gary was a natural fit for it," she said. "He had such insight into the workings of BCC that basically walked into the position easily. He was very helpful to me when we were trying to find a new president."
Robert Pura, who retired as the president of Greenfield Community College in July, worked with Lamoureaux for five years at BCC when he served as the college's dean of academic affairs.
"I think that heaven is fortunate that Gary is there now," Pura said. "He brought love to every aspect of his life, from the work we did together at BCC, to the times when we'd all go out to dinner."
Pura compared Lamoureaux to the "mortar between the bricks" at BCC, "the quiet guy who made things happen."
"He was the kind of person that the world needs more of today, for sure," Pura said. "He'll be dearly missed."
Business Editor Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at email@example.com or 413-496-6224.
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