NEW BRITAIN - Kenneth Revoir was a bit of a recluse, his family said. He was also worth more than $1 million.
Although he had a good pension from his 31 years at Pratt & Whitney, he spent most of the last years of his life living in a single room at the YMCA on High Street.
“He wasn’t a very pretentious man,” said his attorney and friend, Gary Friedle. “He lived a quiet life.He was a funny man with a good sense of humor. He was a warm, friendly guy.”
Friedle met Revoir in the late 1990s, when he handled a legal matter for him. Revoir must have stuck Friedle’s business card in his wallet and kept it there for more than a decade.
Out of the blue, one day in 2012, Friedle got a phone call that Revoir had collapsed and been brought to the Emergency Department at a hospital.
Revoir’s mother, Martha, died in 1990. He had lost contact with his cousins - his aunt’s daughters, Jean Revoir Lawrence and Donna Revoir Rampone - years before. The hospital couldn’t find any other contacts other than the lawyer whose business card was in Revoir’s wallet.
“I went to the hospital,” Friedle said. There he found Revoir, who told him he wanted to get his affairs in order. Friedle said he told Revoir that in order for him to be involved, he needed a small retainer, “even a dollar.”
Revoir said he had no money on him, so Friedle fished a quarter out of his pocket and handed it to the 86-year-old, who in turn handed it back to his newly hired attorney.
Revoir’s wish was to put any money he had into a trust for the assistance of parishioners at St. Maurice Church, which his mother had attended, Friedle said. In order to properly set up Revoir’s will and the trust, Friedle hired attorney Jeffrey Crown, an expert in estate and trust law. Friedle had already started the process of locating Revoir’s assets. The search revealed some interesting results, he said.
Revoir had been living off his Social Security benefits, which he said were more than enough for him. He had never tapped into his pension at Pratt & Whitney and had never cashed years worth of federal income tax refunds. There were assets stashed in other places as well.
By the time Friedle had found everything, he discovered that Revoir was worth more than $1 million.
“He didn’t realize the extent of his assets,” Friedle said.
Through it all, Revoir remained adamant that he wanted to do something in his mother’s name for the parishioners of St. Maurice Church, which recently merged with St. Jerome Church to form St. Katharine Drexel Parish.
Revoir lived out the last two years of his life in a comfortable apartment at Arbor Rose, an assisted-living facility that is part of the Jerome Home. He made friends and would attend activities with the other residents.
Jean Revoir Lawrence, his cousin, had called the YMCA looking for him, but he never returned her message. Undeterred, Lawrence decided to stop by the YMCA, where she was told that her cousin was in a hospital.
The family became close again after she found him, she said. She visited him at Arbor Rose every week.
He died in 2014 at the age of 88. But his legacy will live on through the Martha and Kenneth Revoir Scholarship, which will award at least $2,500 a year to students attending college or a professional trade school after high school graduation. The scholarship is paid through the trust that Friedle set up at Revoir’s request.
So, when the Rev. Andres Mendoza announces Revoir’s name to the congregation of St. Katharine Drexel Parish during Christmas Eve Mass tonight as a benefactor offering scholarships to local students, it will be a sweet tribute to a man who lived austerely and quietly, but wanted to give children at his mother’s former church a chance to succeed.
Preference will be given to parishioners of St. Maurice and St. Katharine Drexel Parish, but students from any Roman Catholic Church in New Britain are encouraged to apply. Revoir’s goal was to help students become “useful, productive citizens.”
“We’re grateful to Mr. Revoir for the scholarship,” Mendoza said. “It’s very inspiring because we are living in a society of takers. It will also be inspiring to the students who receive it because they can think about giving back to their community.”
Students who have been awarded a scholarship will be able to reapply, Friedle said. “There is a possibility that we could give someone a scholarship for all four years of their education,” he said.
Lawrence will make sure that she attends at least one Mass at the St. Katharine Drexel Parish over the holiday weekend, so she can hear the priest announce the scholarship in her cousin and her aunt’s name.
“He worked all his life,. That money was his to do as he pleased,” she said. “I think it’s wonderful he’s doing this.”
Applications for the scholarship must be submitted by March 1. To get an application, visit www.stkdrexelct.org or call the parish at 860-224-2411.