February 10, 2012
Lake Erie College Receives $1 Million Bequest(Painesville, OH) – Lake Erie College announced today it has
received a one-million dollar bequest from former Lake County resident and Coe Manufacturing president, Fred W. Fields. Fields passed away Dec. 13, 2011 at age 88.
"We are grateful Fred Fields has remembered Lake Erie College. He has been a longtime friend and generous supporter of Lake Erie for decades. His kindness has helped us advance education for many generations and his gift today will continue his legacy as a man who believed in higher education and the importance of philanthropy,” said Lake Erie College president Michael T. Victor, J.D., LL.D.
Fields began working as a junior engineer with Coe Manufacturing Company in Painesville in 1947. Because of his strong work ethic and eager nature to learn, he was transferred to the Pacific Northwest early in the 1950s. In 1959, he became Coe’s West Coast manager. Fields was instrumental in the building of the company’s plant in Tigard, Ore.
In 1976, he bought Coe Manufacturing and under his leadership, continued to expand the business. By 1999, it had acquired 15 other companies with expertise in new areas of technology, particularly computer-controlled automation in plywood and lumber production. In 2000, Fields sold Coe to a venture capital firm and retired from the lumber business.
His relationship with the College reaches back to the 1990s where he served on an advisory committee. Understanding the financial challenges facing educational institutions coupled with the new demands for technology in the classroom, in 1992, Fields gave Lake Erie its first technology-directed gift to bring computers to campus.
Recognized for his many contributions to his industry, arts and education, in 1997, Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore. named its new fine arts building the Fred W. Fields Center for the Visual Arts. In 2000, Lake Erie College presented Fields with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree during its Commencement ceremony.
Fields and his wife Suzanne (Schoenfeldt) believed that education prepares and stimulates young people to innovate and develop ideas collaboratively. To this end, the Fields advocated improving college faculties and facilities as keys to quality education.
Per Fields' instructions, the unrestricted gift will be used to support current priorities of the College.