Spring 2014

Dream Weavers

Lots of people helped Lou Fiore along the way. Now he and his wife are doing the same

By Kristen Laine

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Lou and Jean Fiore are devoted to making a difference. Photo: Brian Tietz

Everywhere Lou Fiore, D62, looks, he sees people who helped him achieve his childhood dreams. It’s a disarmingly eclectic list. There’s the dancer at the nightclub who admonished the teenage saxophone player, “You do your thing here; you get your money and go home.” Young Fiore later noticed that he was the only member of the band who didn’t have to settle a bill at the end of each gig.

There’s the neighbor who hired him to paint houses during summers between college and dental school, and the man who told him to be sure to save for retirement. Most important, there’s Fiore’s mother, who showed her youngest child that one of the greatest gifts anyone can give is to support someone else’s dreams.

Rachel Valvo Fiore emigrated from Sicily at age 16 to work in a Connecticut carpet mill. When Lou started school, his mother returned to the mill, working the second shift in between early and late shifts at home. When he confided that he wanted to play in a dance band, she bought him a saxophone. And when she passed away, a month after Lou turned 16, Rachel Fiore left her son money to pursue his dream of being a dentist.

Even though Fiore didn’t touch his mother’s money until he arrived at Tufts, his savings ran out after his second year. “I went to the bursar’s office,” he says, “and told them I couldn’t go on unless they helped me—which they did. They were great to me.”

Fiore has not forgotten the many forms of help he has received, and has looked for ways to help others in return.

“You’re nobody until somebody helps you become someone.” —Lou Fiore, D62

He and his wife, Jean, supported the school’s campus expansion in 2008, funding the 14th-floor lecture hall known as Rachel’s Amphitheater—named in honor of Rachel Valvo Fiore—and the Fiore Dean’s Suite. Most recently, the couple named the School of Dental Medicine a beneficiary of their individual retirement account. The gift will ultimately endow the Jean H. and Louis A. Fiore, D62, Dean’s Discretionary Fund.

“I never took a withdrawal from that IRA,” Fiore says with a laugh, recalling that advice he received as a boy about saving for retirement. He appreciates the irony in now giving it away. But it also pleases him that their bequest, when realized, will maintain Rachel’s Amphitheater in perpetuity, and will also support a scholarship in their names that will allow other students with dreams to complete their schooling.

He recognizes that none of us achieves success completely on our own. “You’re nobody,” he says, “until somebody helps you become someone.”

Through their far-sighted philanthropy, the Fiores have committed to being that “somebody” to a future generation of Tufts dental students. “It is a top priority right now to enable our students to attend Tufts and to graduate without crippling debt,” says Mark Gonthier, the school’s executive associate dean. “The amazing generosity of people like Lou and Jean Fiore makes a tremendous difference—for some of our students, the crucial difference in the arc of a life.”

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