Leaving a legacy for Vermonters
- By Jay Goyette
Alumni Connection /
Leaving a legacy for Vermonters
Burt and Celia Paquin ’43 met in 1941 when Celia was a UVM undergraduate and Burt was a recent graduate of Burlington Business College (now Champlain College) and soon to begin his service in the Army Air Corps during World War II.
Now retired and living in Swanton on the shore of Lake Champlain, the couple were married in 1946, a year before Burt began the automobile dealership that has made the Paquin name a familiar and respected one by Vermonters throughout the state. Celia spent her career as a first-grade teacher in Burlington while raising a young family. Her passion was helping young children learn to read.
Having grown up on a farm in Sheldon, Vermont (both his father and grandfather were farmers), Burt says those formative years taught him much that helped him throughout his career in business and the military— including the value of hard work, the value of a dollar, and common sense. His early education was in a one-room schoolhouse, and he worked his way through college as a young man.
In addition to his service in World War II and the Korean War, Burt has also maintained a long-time affiliation with the Vermont Air National Guard. He takes pride in having been among its founding members, rising to the rank of Colonel in the United States Air Force —service he refers to as his “first career.”
His second career, he says, was in the auto dealership he founded in St. Albans, Paquin Motors, a successful business consistently recognized for its outstanding customer service, earning him Time Magazine’s Quality Dealer Award in 1988 and numerous other industry accolades throughout the years.
The automobile business is now headed by Burt and Celia’s son, Burton “Bud” Paquin, Jr., UVM Class of 1969. The couple also have a son Robert, UVM Class of 1971, G’75, a longtime aide to U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy and currently the state director of the USDA Farm Service Agency in Vermont, as well as a daughter, Sarah, Skidmore Class of 1975, who is the chief human resources officer for Brookline Bancorp. Granddaughter Jennifer Paquin is a UVM graduate as well, Class of 1999.
The Paquin family all having enjoyed the benefits of higher education in their lives and careers, Burt and Celia decided several years ago to provide funds in their estate to support students at three Vermont institutions of higher education: UVM; Champlain College (where Burt graduated in 1938); and Vermont Technical College, where Burt was a passionate advocate for the Automotive Technology program at its inception.
Funds received by UVM will be used to establish the Burt and Celia Paquin Scholarship Fund, providing annual support for one or more students with financial need from Franklin County, Vermont.
“The way we’re headed, we need to make higher education available to more people,” Burt says of the country’s current economic challenges. “Our three children and three grandchildren all got a good education, and they’re all doing okay. Hopefully, Celia and I will be able to help some other young Vermonters get through who need a hand.”