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International donor's passion for life benefits law students

by Karmen Dowling | December 22, 2010

International donor's passion for life benefits law students
Kevin Comeau and his daughter, Chloe, swimming with a dolphin in Bermuda.

His Western education opened doors for him, and now he's opening doors for others.

This year, Kevin Comeau (LLB’82) added another $25,000 donation to continue supporting the Kevin J. Comeau Continuing Scholarship he created in the Faculty of Law in 2003. This new gift brings his total giving to almost $200,000.

Comeau says his time at Western taught him two things: how much he didn’t know, and to question what he did know. And so began his life adventure to find and pursue his passions.

After graduation he first worked as a lawyer in Canada for several years. He recalls his fellow lawyers as smart and hard-working, often pulling all-nighters and working weekends. But after a Bermudan vacation where he met young professionals who played golf, tennis, or sailed after work each day, he knew he had to choose a different, more balanced, path.

In 1989 he moved to Bermuda where he enjoyed a decade of work at a law firm, and embraced life outside the office. Then, at the age of 41, he retired.

“I’m often asked why I retired so young, when I had only enough money to pay the bills but not much more. I loved my job, and I could have earned much more money if I had continued to work. My answer: I simply did as my philosophy professor taught me that first week at Western. I questioned everything, even a great job. Some people are motivated by money and others, by power. I’m motivated by time. I don’t know how many years, months or days I have left on earth, but I want to live them to the fullest.”

During his first years of retirement, Comeau did just that. He moved to France to study French; learned to play guitar; and eventually pursued a masters in fine art in creative writing at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas where he met the love of his life, Karenmary.

In 2006, Comeau found himself back in Bermuda with Karenmary and their daughter Chloe and started to question whether his time could be put to better use. He had spent years as a lawyer finding problems, assessing risks and developing plans to minimize or eliminate those risks. He decided to use those same skills to help reduce the social burdens that were becoming more prevalent in Bermuda and now drafts social policies to help bridge the growing gap between the haves and the have-nots.

“An old Western friend of mine, Jim Harrison, once told me you should only work where you think you can add value. That advice has helped me discover the pleasure of working on something I’m passionate about.”

Comeau is also passionate about helping Western law students. He is one of Western’s many international donors who feel compelled to give back to their university.

“Who’s to know if our donations will allow some young woman to forgo her part-time job to concentrate on her schoolwork, which allows her to get into medical school? Who’s to know if our donations will allow a young man to be the first in his family to work with his mind instead of his hands? I don’t know what effect my donations will eventually have, but I do know that by giving to Western, something positive will happen somewhere, to someone.”

This article appeared in the Winter 2010 edition of Impact Western
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