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Frostburg State University
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Lewis J. Ort

 

Lewis J. Ort

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The University lost a great friend with the death Sept. 24 of Lewis J. Ort, an entrepreneur who made his fortune baking bread and then spent his life using that fortune to help others.

A native of Allegany County, Ort was born in 1918 and began his baking career in the family shop in Midland, Md., eventually moving it to Cumberland and merging with another local bread company. His fortune came when he and his brother developed a recipe for a diet bread in the 1950s, the nation's first, according to his obituary in The Cumberland Times-News. He sold the bakery to Stroehmann Brothers in 1968 and moved on to selling bread-base mixes, especially for diet breads, to wholesale bakeries nationally.

But the true focus of his life was philanthropy. "Mr. Ort was an extremely generous person who used his resources to help higher education," FSU President Catherine Gira told the Times-News.

Ort's contributions to FSU started with generous gifts to the capital campaign, which later made significant state matching funds available. Later, as Ort's contributions continued, they were broken out into funds matching Ort's areas of interest. The initial fund, and still the largest, is the Lewis J. Ort Technology Fund, which produces between $40,000 and $50,000 per year to enhance technology on campus. In addition, there is the Lewis J. Ort Physical Education and Recreation Graduate Assistant Fund, the Lewis J. Ort Regional Science Scholarship, the Lewis J. Ort Special Student Recognition Award and the Library Endowed Fund. Ort was the first recipient of the Frostburg State University Medallion, the University's most prestigious award, given to him in 1989. The medallion is designed to recognize an outstanding individual who holds the highest standards and who serves as a role model for students and all of humanity.

Naming the Frostburg State University library the Lewis J. Ort Library was unanimously recommended by the University president, faculty, staff and students and approved by the Board of Regents in 1990. Ort's kindness to FSU was a reflection of his generosity to the world at large. Beyond the borders of Allegany County, Ort did everything from build a power plant in India to a hospital in Thailand to houses of worship all over the world, raising millions of dollars for charities large and small. "I've never met a person with a greater view of philanthropy," said Jack Aylor, executive director of the FSU Foundation Inc. "I've never known anyone with his view of generosity toward humanity."

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