The Power of Philanthropy: The Leo & Muriel Lanouette Story

Feb 2, 2021

One morning several years ago, an unassuming widower named Leo Lanouette read a story in The Standard-Times about our annual Scholarship program and was inspired to reach out to us to discuss his and his late wife Muriel’s estate.

Leo grew up in Fall River and, after serving his country, met his future wife, a New Bedford girl, at the Lincoln Park Ballroom. Courtship led to a very long and happy marriage, a modest home in Westport, solid educations from local institutions, and fulfilling careers: his as an engineer and hers as a nurse. When Muriel passed away, all too suddenly in 2015, it made Leo’s desire to secure a legacy for them all the more urgent. Working with the Community Foundation, Leo decided that a scholarship fund would be part of his estate plan. Their legacy would acknowledge their gratitude for the many gifts they were given throughout their lives and create opportunities for young people in Fall River and New Bedford who, like themselves, come from humble beginnings but have dreams and aspirations.

Since Leo passed away, we have worked to fulfill his wishes. In March, it will be the first time the new, very generous, and inspiring Leo R. and Muriel A. Lanouette Scholarship Fund will be providing support to local nursing, computer science, and electrical engineering students who are past their first year at UMass Dartmouth.

Reflecting on the impact of the fund and the role of the Foundation, the University’s Dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, Kimberly Christopher, and Dean of the College of Engineering, Jean VanderGheynst, concurred, “the Lanouette Fund will change the lives of future engineers, scientists, and nurses by giving Southcoast students opportunities they may not have had otherwise. These scholarships will facilitate our students’ ability to complete their degree and move on to successful and fulfilling careers. It’s the support of regional partners like SouthCoast Community Foundation that enable our most valuable mission, student success.”

The Lanouette’s story is just as inspiring as what this fund will mean for these students. They remind us of the power of philanthropy and leaving a legacy of generosity.

Click here to find out how to apply to the Leo R. and Muriel A. Lanouette Scholarship as well as other available scholarships.


UMass Dartmouth Bioengineering students working in the lab (photo courtesy of UMass Dartmouth).

Share this post