In Honor Of A Good Man Who Lived Well And Died Too Young, A Living Memorial

A memorial scholarship at Xavier High School is being established in honor of Peter Gelinas, who died in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11. Here's how you can contribute ...


When the Coppola family moved to Flintlock Drive in Madison in 1973, a 5-year-old boy named Peter Gelinas from next door rode his bike up the driveway and said hello. 

Peter became a close friend of a Coppola boy about the same age, Chris, and a constant presence in the home and hearts of the Coppola family. Likewise, Chris was treated like part of the family at the Gelinas home next door.

Many years later, Peter, who worked for the investment firm, Cantor Fitzgerald, died in the 9/11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center. After his death, Chris and Peter's other friends thought of him constantly. They remembered Peter as an "enthusiastic, optimistic, and caring man. At Xavier [High School] he was captain of the football team, and always tried to include all members of the community in the fun," Chris said.

Chris and other friends of Peter are now starting up a scholarship fund in Peter's name. Every contribution counts. To give:www.xavierhighschool.org/give

Here is what Chris had to say about the creation of the scholarship fund, along with information on how you can find out more: 

The Xavier High School community and Madison, CT suffered a painful and shocking loss in the death of Peter Gelinas during the attacks of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center on 9/11. Peter’s death was both sudden and senseless. In the wake of 9/11, Peter, like many who perished, left behind a loving spouse, and two young sons.

Peter represented all the best characteristics in a young man. He was an enthusiastic, proactive, and positive member of his community. He always included others in the fun, and he stuck up for the most vulnerable members of our community who needed help.

We remember him from our shared time at Xavier High School as a friend and teammate, an exemplary scholar-athlete who shined as the captain of the football team. Peter went on to higher education at Villanova and success in the Manhattan firm Cantor & Fitzgerald.  

Since 2001, many of us have participated in remembrance ceremonies for Peter and other victims of the 9/11 attacks. There is a bench dedicated to him along the shoreline at the Surf Club, and a memorial plaque with his yearbook picture outside the doors of the Xavier Chapel. In any city with a 9/11 memorial you can touch the letters of his name where he is listed with so many others and remember the man who is no longer with us.

While we all remember Peter in our own private way, especially when a new anniversary of 9/11 comes and goes, we classmates of his have set out to honor his memory in an living and breathing manner. We are establishing a memorial scholarship at Xavier High School in Peter's honor.

Creating a recurring gift of a partial scholarship requires a minimum endowment of $25,000. The more we raise the more support we can provide to a deserving incoming freshman every year.

After a short campaign, we are happy to report that we have raised half of that goal. Our deadline to make the Peter Gelinas Memorial Scholarship a reality for the next incoming class is June 30, 2013. Peter is an important facet of the Xavier community and he has even deeper roots in his hometown Madison where many friends remember him with fondness. Contributions are tax-deductible and we need all the help we can get to succeed!

If anyone has questions about the scholarship, they can contact me, Chris Coppola, at (570)380-3686 or cpcoppola@geisinger.edu , and Matt Strekel ’99, Director of Advancement at Xavier High School at (860) 347-6079 or mstrekel@xavierhighschool.org .

We also ask for help spreading the word by "liking" our Facebook cause page: https://www.facebook.com/GelinasScholarship . 

Best wishes and thank you for any help you can provide!

eileen banisch February 20, 2013 at 12:57 PM
What a wonderful tribute.
Christopher Coppola February 21, 2013 at 02:57 AM
Pem, Thank you for such a wonderful piece about Peter. As you describe, he has long been on my mind. What has come as a surprise is when I bring up Peter's memory with others, they tell me the same thing. It is a testament to how powerful his life was that we who knew him can't forget him. I know I"m not alone, he touched many lives in Madison. Thanks again for spreading the word about our project to memorialize Peter with the institution of this scholarship! Best wishes, Chris Coppola
Pem McNerney (Editor) February 21, 2013 at 03:08 AM
Thank you for letting me know about the story! Keep me posted on your progress and we can do updates ...
Richard February 21, 2013 at 04:49 AM
An ImageAMMO 'wrapper' of Peter'G' ... WHAT A GREAT KID ... HE ALWAYS HAD AN IDEA ... 'LETS JUST DO IT' ... "Here we go' ... http://iaws.imageammo.com/share.php?u=32337eaa58b41892322c07839871add6&w=bd1c890b52c3b0a2319678f99ae7fb85
Eileen Coppola February 21, 2013 at 01:09 PM
Thanks, Richard.
J Nann February 22, 2013 at 12:23 AM
As both family friends and alum from OLM days as well a Mercy/Xavier we fondly remember Pete as all the words above describe him. He was on an exemplary man, larger than life, who fell victim to a horrible atrocity we will never forget...A wonderful way to honor him. - Meg and John Nann


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