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Remembering George Kane '25

Written by: 
Paul K. Carberry

Vision and Stewardship

George E. Kane ’25, a noted business leader and philanthropist who enjoyed a long and successful career in banking and investment advising, died on November 10, 2009. He was 104 years old and had been involved with Bentley University for most of his life.

As was true for many alumni of that era, Bentley set George Kane on a path from modest beginnings to lifelong achievement. Among the first graduates of what was then the Bentley School of Accounting and Finance, Mr. Kane began his career in a furniture store. He married Sally Smith, the daughter of the store owner, and later partnered with his brother-in-law to establish a lending and investment firm. Kane Financial Corporation would go on to acquire a portion of the Garden City Bank of Newton.

Mr. Kane proved a visionary investor. He quickly saw the potential of a small coffee shop that son Louis acquired in the late 1970s. It grew into a franchise: Au Bon Pain. The alumnus served on the boards of Au Bon Pain and Panera Bread into his 90s. He was a board member for many other corporations and nonprofit institutions, notably, Boston’s West End House. His own deeply influential boyhood experience at the West End House Summer Camp in Maine inspired Mr. Kane to ensure the same opportunity for future generations.

Serving on the Bentley Board of Trustees from 1972 to 1980, Mr. Kane shepherded growth of the university’s endowment as a member and chair of the Investment Committee. He was elected trustee emeritus in 1980 and remained an active and generous friend to his alma mater. In 1995, he received an honorary degree recognizing significant contributions to the institution and to his profession. Fellow trustees marked Mr. Kane’s 100th birthday with a resolution that stated, in part:

“As a business leader and philanthropist, you have been a peerless ambassador for Bentley and a singular example to our students and alumni. . . .  You have given generously of both your wealth and wisdom, to the immense benefit of your alma mater. The trustees, faculty, administrators, students and alumni of Bentley College do hereby express their profound admiration for your lifetime of myriad achievement.”

The family’s support for Bentley includes the Kane Professorship in Finance, which Louis Kane and his sister, Anne Kane Collier, established to honor their parents. Louis, who died in 2000, also served as a Bentley trustee.