A scholarship assists students from Michigan's Upper Peninsula to attend MSU.

A hardworking, educated man remembered

At the tender age of 15, Clifton Rautiola (’51, Social Science) took one of the few good paying jobs still available in his hometown of Hancock, Michigan: shoveling coal into the furnaces of ore freighters sailing from Lake Superior. The work was grueling, especially for a scrawny young teen, but Clifton had a plan for a better life.

Courtesy: Flickr user normanbleventhalmapcenter

In the 1940s after copper mines closed in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, teens commonly dropped out of school to help support their families. Yet throughout those difficult times, Clifton’s father, Arnold, was unwavering in his belief that education offered the only way out of poverty, despite having just an eighth grade education himself and struggling to provide for his wife and six children.

Arnold ensured that Clifton saved his hard earned wages for college. Clifton graduated from MSU with a degree in Psychology. All of his siblings also earned college degrees.

Clifton went on to get a D.D.S. at the University of Michigan, served as a U.S. Army captain, and returned to Ann Arbor for post doctorate studies in periodontics. There he met Patricia as she obtained her R.N., and then earned additional licensure in physical therapy, an unusual accomplishment for a woman of that era. They were married and raised their family in Okemos as Clifton established the first periodontal practice in Lansing and one of the first such practices in Michigan.

His children can attest he never forgot that everything he had was attributable to his educational opportunities. To commemorate this, Clifton and Patricia Rautiola’s children and family members joined DTN Management partners Thomas and Mary Kuschinski, and Iqbal “Nick” and Nancy Uppal to establish a $750,000 endowment to honor Clifton. The endowment will be funded through a $450,000 gift from the Rautiola family and two $150,000 pledges from the Uppals and the Kuschinskis. Fittingly, the endowment will support MSU undergraduate students from the U.P.

According to Tom Kuschinski, he and Nick Uppal first met Clifton Rautiola through a mutual interest in purchasing the same investment property. Clifton became an investor in DTN and also a friend of Tom and Nick.

Clifton passed in 2007, but he and Patricia’s interests and partnership in DTN Management Corporation continues today through their children and family members Eric and Carol Rautiola, John and Katrina Rosculet, and Gary and Kirstin Perkins.

The Clifton and Patricia Rautiola and DTN Communities Endowment will award its first scholarships in the fall of 2010.

For more information about making a gift to University Scholarships and Fellowships, contact Assistant Director of Development Maura Benton at (517) 353-0007; bentonm@grd.msu.edu.

This article was originally published by University Advancement on September 21, 2010.

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