LANCASTER—Roger Tate Fortin passed away peacefully on December 26, 2020, at the age of 87 at his home in Lancaster. He was born on January 8, 1933, in New Rochelle, N.Y., the only son of Henri Gaston LaLonde Joseph Sifroy Fortin and Elizabeth Freanor Tate Fortin.
He attended the Brunswick School in Greenwich, Conn., and the Admiral Farragut Military Academy in Pine Beach, N.J. He then attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., where he particularly enjoyed racing aboard the academy sailboats. His choice of the academy reflected his lifelong passion for sailing. He served as a Navy pilot, achieving the rank of lieutenant, junior grade. Following his naval career, in 1956, he received his bachelor’s in business and finance from the University of Houston.
He began his lifetime career as an executive with IBM, excited by the opportunity to work in an industry that promised enormous potential for growth and innovation, like two of his patents, one of which is the Barcode that we use today. Mr. Fortin often commented on the miracle that over a relatively short period of time this industry had reduced the size of computers from room-filling machines to mere hand-held devices.
Like his father before him, Mr. Fortin became a member of American Yacht Club, where he soon met and sailed with other IBM employees, including the chief executive officer. As a result, IBM gave him leave to become director for Operation Sail 1976. This event brought over 200 Tall Ships from 75 countries with a parade into New York Harbor for the United States Bicentennial. In 1986, Operation Sail was repeated for the Centennial celebration of the Statue of Liberty, and he was called upon to be the president of this event. In 1983, he was asked to join the board of the Westchester County’s New York State Tricentennial of the United States Commission.
Mr. Fortin was also a member of the New York Yacht Club, the Storm Trysail Club, the Cruising Club of America and The Corinthians.
He always found time to pursue the sailing that he loved and at which he excelled. Some of his most noteworthy accomplishments included first place overall in the Newport-Bermuda race; third place in the family division of the Marion, Massachusetts, race to Bermuda; and a round trip transatlantic crossing in his beloved 44-foot sailboat, Tango. One of his many protégés, his nephew Geoff Beringer, became a well-known racer in his own right.
While he was dating Jane Keese Begrisch, he enrolled her in the AYC’s Ladies Sailing Class. She adapted to the sport eagerly, making it easy for him to propose. She and their children became his talented crew. His beloved dogs and cats also participated in the nautical life.
Roger Fortin loved to travel, even if by land. During their long life together, he and his wife were able to see most of the world.
In addition to his wife of 60 years, Jane Begrisch Fortin, he is survived by his son, Blaine Marshall Fortin (Lisa Ann Matos Fortin); his daughters, Cheryl Lynn Fortin Young (Dr. Richard William Young) and Dawn Marie Fortin Colby (George Arthur Colby Sr.); his sister, Marie “Moo” Marguerite Fortin Beringer; seven grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren, James Tate Fortin Wise, PhD; USCG Petty Officer Spencer Wilhelm Fortin (Ashley Marie Isadore Fortin) and their two children, Zoe Ann-Marie Fortin and Zayne Wilhelm Fortin; USN Lieutenant William Tate Young; Elisabeth Ann Fortin Hudson (John Raymond “JR” Hudson); Timothy Richard Young (Christy Eva Altman Young) and their daughter, Mary Catherine Ann Young; Kayla Rebecca Young; Ashley Virginia Fortin; and many nieces and nephews.
Donations in Roger Fortin’s memory may be made to The Hospice of Virginia, 1328 Tappahannock Boulevard #9309, Tappahannock, VA 22560.
A Memorial Interment in the ritual of the Rite of Committal and Final Commendation will be held at Christ’s Church, Rye, N.Y., sometime later this year.