How one man's generosity is changing lives
Mentor. Coach. Friend. These are some of the words used to describe Douglas Britten – a beloved Thunder Bay high school teacher who passed away in 2019.
Douglas – or Doug as most people knew him – was an outgoing man with many friends and a talent for conversation. At Lakehead, we have even more ways to describe Doug
– supporter of young people's dreams, inspirational benefactor, and generous spirit.
Doug was a man deeply involved in his community. His thoughtful decision to leave a gift in his Will was one of the ways that he made his community stronger and created an enduring legacy at Lakehead.
Brian McKinnon, who serves on Lakehead University's Board of Governors and the City Council of Thunder Bay, knew Doug from the time they were high school students back in the early 1960s.
"We both went to Port Arthur Collegiate Institute (PACI), and we had some friends in common. We reconnected later when we both became teachers and started golfing together and taking trips to Minneapolis to watch baseball."
Doug spent most of his teaching career at PACI and, for several years, Brian served there too as PACI's vice-principal, and then principal. It gave Brian the chance to see firsthand how Doug was able to get the best out of every student. For anyone who found math difficult or frustrating, Doug was ready to tutor them after school and during lunch hours. Students clamoured to be in his classes.
So many former students have told me," Brian says, "'If it weren't for Doug, I would have quit math.'
Doug also volunteered his time as a PACI staff advisor and coached basketball, golf, skiing, hockey, and curling. This dedication to his students didn't end when they graduated. Doug maintained friendships with them into their adulthood.
"It was astonishing to be with Doug when he met a former student," Brian says. "He would remember exactly who they were, what they accomplished in school, and most likely what they were doing now. Suffice it to say that Doug loved his time at PACI and PACI was a better place for his having taught there."
Lakehead is also now a better place because of Doug.
"There's no question in my mind that Doug made a substantial philanthropic gift in his Will to Lakehead because he wanted students to broaden their career horizons and open as many doors as possible for them," Brian says.
Thanks to Douglas Britten's belief in helping young people, the promise and potential of Lakehead students will not go unfulfilled.
Amazing things can happen when you combine foresight with a generous heart. Find out how YOU can create a future for students to believe in.
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