Lt.Col. (Ret) L. Renshaw Fortier, 88, died peacefully on Sunday, leaving behind a life lived fully and with enduring love. Ren, a longtime-resident of Virginia Beach, VA and Birmingham, AL, enjoyed several successful careers as an Army officer, businessman, lecturer, author, community volunteer and lay minister.
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An Army brat, he spent his teen years in France and Yugoslavia where his father served as an Army intelligence officer. At the outbreak of World War II, Fortier and his two sisters were forced to flee Yugoslavia just before Nazi Panzer divisions overtook the country. In his later years, he recounted those harrowing days, as well as the fascinating military careers of both father and son in the book, "Before the Fields of Crosses."
A graduate of West Point, he obtained his Master's Degree at Vanderbilt University. He served for twelve years in the US Army, followed by eight years in the reserves, where he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel.
In 1966, Ren founded Teren Company, a management consulting firm that coached top corporate executives in the art of leadership. He lectured at such institutions as Harvard University, MIT, NY School of Finance, the Naval War College and Old Dominion University.
Active in the Virginia Beach community, he served as Chairman of the Board of Cape Henry Collegiate School, where he began a scholarship fund in his father's name. He served as chairman of the Finance Committee for the General Douglas MacArthur Memorial Foundation. He also served on the boards of the Princess Anne and Cenit banks, and on the advisory boards of Atlantic Shores Retirement Community, Lee's Friends and the Junior League of Norfolk/Virginia Beach.
While in Birmingham, he also chaired the organizing board of Trinity Counseling, a non-profit ministry dedicated to providing mental health services to those who are unable to afford them. He later retired as Director Emeritus.
A devout Catholic, he was a Knight of Malta. He was honored with the St. Pius X medal for his work with the National Catholic Laymen's Retreat League. He served as a lay minister and active member of the St. Francis Xavier Parish in Birmingham, serving on the Diocese of Birmingham's Finance and Human Resources Council.
During his later years, Fortier worked with Birmingham's Briarwood Presbyterian Church to establish and grow its Prison Ministry, working with inmates in maximum security prisons.
But his greatest career of all was as "Pere," the loving and devoted patriarch to his large and widespread clan. He enjoyed a wonderful life with his wife of 45 years, Maureen McGrath, his five children, their spouses, six grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
After Maureen died in 1994, he was graced with a second joyous life with his devoted wife, Peggy M. Conway. He was happily embraced by Peggy's two daughters and son, and eight grandchildren and one great grandchild.
In his own words, he felt that God had been especially kind to him. However, his family believes that they were the ones so blessed.
He is survived by his widow, Peggy M. Fortier; his son Richard J. Fortier and wife Nancy of Smithfield, VA; his daughter Claire Fortier and spouse Dr. Maria Pielaet of Redmond, WA; his son L. Renshaw Fortier, Jr. and his partner, Anna Brown; his son Louis Joseph "Chip" Fortier and his wife Karen of Virginia Beach; and his daughter Julia Fortier Houser of Virginia Beach. He is also survived by his stepdaughter, Arden Conway Richards and her husband, Don, of Birmingham, AL, his stepson, Michael Conway, and his wife, Louise, of Houston, TX; and his stepdaughter Pam Conway Nicastro, and her husband, Norm, of Hunstville, AL.
He is also survived by his two sisters, Solidelle Wasser, and her husband, Henry, of New York, NY and Margot Aicklen, and her husband, William, of Crescent Springs, KY.
He was predeceased by his first wife, Maureen McGrath Fortier, and son in law, Jack L. Houser.
A funeral mass will be held at 2 p.m. on Thursday, June 6 at HD Oliver Funeral Apartments, Laskin Road in Virginia Beach. Burial with military honors will follow at the nearby Eastern Shore Cemetery.
In Lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Trinity Counseling at 1025 Montgomery Highway; #214; Birmingham, AL 35216 or Love and Caring Ministries at 2804 Salem Rd. Va. Beach, VA 23456.
Published in The Virginian Pilot on June 5, 2013
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