His Brother’s Keeper: A Scholarship Devoted to the Trade
Albert Pieropan had many mentors growing up in Ashfield, MA. The youngest of four boys, Albert learned his place in the pecking order pretty quickly. Despite the natural chaos of multiple siblings, he had a close relationship with his brothers, particular Antonio (or Tony for short) who took Albert under his powerful wing and showed him the ropes.
In 1946, Tony, a high school athlete and graduate, joined the Navy. During his two-year tour right after WWII, he took a shine to electrical work and trained to become an electrician on board the ship. Thanks to the G.I. Bill, Tony headed for Chicago after he left the Navy to earn his electrician's license. He also married his high school sweetie, Antoinette, a “good gal” who matched him both in name and work ethic.
“He was a craftsman, a journeyman, all his life,” Albert said. “I was off to higher education to become a teacher and he was working for an electrical supply store in Pittsfield, then later became a master electrician. He worked hard for everything he had.”
Tony continued his trade into his late 80s, long after his brother had retired from teaching. And while Tony and Antoinette did not have children, the elder Pieropan threw his energy into his nieces and nephews as well as his local church. Tony was an active and generous member of the community, volunteering his skills, serving on committees and promoting conservation efforts. Shortly before his death in September 2011, Tony called his baby brother to tell him a story.
“He called me up and said that he'd visited the Berkshire Taconic Foundation just to see what it was all about,” Albert said. “He wanted to do something good with his assets.” After Tony's death, Albert was surprised to learn that his elder brother had made him the sole inheritor of his estate.
“He left things to me to take care of, knowing that I didn't need any money,” he said. “But I remembered the conversation that we had about him visiting Berkshire Taconic and I knew that he wanted me to set something up there. That was my thinking, to carry out this one thing that he wanted me to do. Brother to brother.”
And so, the Antonio and Antoinette Pieropan Scholarship was born. The scholarship supports residents for Stockbridge, MA who want to continue their education through the trades and services.
“There are many people who need help to get certificates for employment,” Albert said. “Tony had the good fortune to have the G.I. Bill. There is a whole group of people who would rather wear a hard hat and a tool belt than a suit and tie. These people are not academics, and yet they are very valuable as tradesman—police officers, truck drivers, electricians. This will help them. And it's something that will remember Tony and Antoinette in a positive way.”