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Rose Mary Picciotti Fund

Lillian Ferguson with her sister, Rose Mary Picciotti
Lillian Ferguson, right, with her sister, Rose Mary Picciotti

As the eldest child of two Italian immigrants, Rose Mary Picciotti grew up with a challenge before her: to learn English and set an example for her four siblings. The lifelong Akron resident met this challenge head on, becoming not only fluent in the language but also proficient. 

Rose graduated with honors from North High School and, later, the University of Akron, where she earned both a bachelor's and a master's degree and became the first person in her family to graduate from college. It was there that she discovered her passion for teaching and helping others.

During Rose's 35-year teaching career in Akron, she served as a guidance counselor, teacher and secretary at East, North, Jennings and Robinson schools. She also taught for many years at Akron Night School, helping returning World War II veterans earn their high school diplomas. 

"Rose did so much good with her teaching," said her younger sister Lillian Ferguson. "As a commercial teacher, she taught hundreds of kids how to making a living through shorthand, typing and bookkeeping."

Lillian said Rose was born to teach and would pretend to be a teacher as a child. She was an avid reader and had a natural ability to care for others. By the time she retired in 1971, Rose had achieved the status of teacher emeritus. 

Throughout her life, Rose carried her gift for teaching and nurturing into her personal life, acting as a mother to Lillian and their three siblings after the early death of their parents. When Rose herself passed away in January 2009, Lillian decided she wanted to do something to honor her sister's lifelong commitment to others. She approached Akron Community Foundation and generously donated $5,000 to establish the Rose Mary Picciotti Fund.

Like many fundholders of the foundation, Lillian does not come from a background of wealth. A lifelong resident of Akron, Lillian worked at Ohio Edison for seven years before retiring to raise her four daughters. When her sister passed away, Lillian was able to give the foundation's low minimum of $5,000 to establish a fund, enabling her to achieve her dream of honoring Rose's life.

Lillian said the Rose Mary Picciotti Fund will be unrestricted; as the fund grows, the earnings will benefit a wide range of programs – just as her sister touched the lives of countless children.

"I thought that by establishing a fund, I could help continue Rose's good work in the community," Lillian said. "We all benefit in some ways from other people's contributions, so this carries that legacy forward."

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