Randy S. Proto, 55, of Weston, died on August 12 after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer.
He leaves behind his beloved wife, Maria Calamito-Proto of 22 years and his 8 year old son, Christopher, whom he adored and considered his greatest achievement. Randy devoted most of his free time to teaching Christopher the value of learning, the benefit of expressing himself and the importance of always asking questions so he would build a wealth of knowledge.
Randy was born in Orange, and attended The Fairfield College Preparatory School in Fairfield, where he graduated in 1975. In a career that spanned over 30 years, Randy was a nationally recognized educator, entrepreneur and vocational student advocate. Randy advocated for student access and choice, and fought to improve the career education system by bringing compassion and understanding to the complicated issues surrounding Higher Education in the United States.
Randy served as a member of the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU). Steadfast in his commitment to both vocational students and education, Randy worked diligently as an advocate for the students in private education.
His career began in 1978 when he enrolled at Computer Processing Institute (CPI) in Connecticut. After graduation, he found he had a passion for teaching and accepted an instructor position at CPI. From there he served in numerous faculty and staff positions and eventually became the Campus President of the school’s New Jersey location. So powerful was his own testimony to the value of vocational education that Randy truly became the embodiment of his beliefs.
His skill for bringing his personal educational story to Washington built steadfast relationships with members of both political parties, garnering respect from organizations and legislators in all corners of the nation. He became a trusted and valued voice regarding education in the United States.
In 1986, Randy developed his own vision for career education and founded the Rhodes Group and served as its president and CEO. He later joined Whitman Education Group and acted as its President and CEO until its sale in 1994–a personal accomplishment for the educator and businessman. In 2007, Randy gathered close friends and associates to form American Institute, a group of schools which delivered degree and non-degree allied health programs both residentially and via distance education.
Most recently, he was named as the Chief Strategy Officer at Premier Education Group. He was responsible for creating, communicating, and implementing strategic initiatives across the organization. Randy was also dedicated to many other organizations, offering his time and guidance to their success.
He was on the board of ATI Enterprises; served as a strategic partner in American Dog Rescue; and was a senior partner at EdExperts, a direct-response advertising agency. Philanthropy was essential to Randy and he supported, both through advocacy and contributions, many causes. He was most often drawn to veteran organizations in memory of his father’s service to our country. He supported the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
He also supported organizations that help children battle brain and spinal cord tumors and the Imagine America Foundation, a national scholarship program for vocational education students.
Outside the workplace, Randy took up Israeli-based martial arts. He earned a black belt in the Haganah system and co-founded the International Haganah Federation, which trained civilian, law enforcement, and military personnel on self-defense and fitness. He had a passion for cars, the latest technological devices and was an avid reader.
In addition, he believed friendship and family were of paramount importance. Besides his wife and son, Randy is also survived by his brother, Keith Proto (Robert Nathman) of Orange; brother Dennis Proto (Marsha), of Cheshire. He is predeceased by his parents, Henry A. and Edith M. Proto of Orange.
Randy also leaves behind a large circle of extended family, friends and colleagues.
A Memorial Service will be held on August 19 at 11:00 AM at Norfield Congregational Church, 64 Norfield Road, Weston, CT 06883. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to the Lustgarten Foundation, an organization committed to the scientific and medical research related to the diagnosis, treatment and cure of pancreatic cancer.
All those that knew him would be quick to agree Randy was the type of friend that you’d always hoped to somehow know but never thought you’d be lucky enough to have. Randy has left a rich legacy that will live on in all of us– in his stories, and his examples, and in the smiles that we share every time we think of him.
Arrangements are in care of the PORTO FUNERAL HOME, 830 Jones Hill Rd., West Haven, CT. Sign Randy’s guestbook online at www.portofuneralhomes.net