Remembering Fred Gant

By Brent Lancaster
Associate Director of Communication
College of Engineering

Allen “Fred” Gant’s wife Beverly shares memories about one of ISE’s greatest supporters

After a successful career as a pharmaceutical executive that grew from his NC State industrial engineering degree, Fred Gant turned his sights to his alma mater.

“If there are things that need to be done in engineering, I’m here to do it,” Gant’s wife, Beverly Gant, recalls him saying.

In 1996, Fred and Beverly Gant established the Allen F. and Beverly Gant Scholarship for students in the `Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering. To date, the scholarship has assisted 36 ISE students with their education.

Gant, who passed away in March, served on the board of directors for the NC State Engineering Foundation, Inc., providing valuable guidance on the organization’s finances. He was a member of the inaugural class to receive the ISE Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award and was named a Distinguished Engineering Alumnus by the College of Engineering in 1998.

A native of Greensboro, Gant graduated from Xavier Military Academy of New York. Beverly Gant remembers that it was his uncle Romeo LeFort who encouraged him to leave New York City and come to Raleigh to study. LeFort was the assistant dean of students at NC State and a father figure to Gant.

“Fred realized that although he grew up in the city, he was on the same footing as the young men who were coming off the farms,” Beverly Gant recalled. “None of them had any money, so they all worked together to get through.”

After graduating from NC State in 1955 with a Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering, Gant held managerial positions with E.R. Squibb Pharmaceutical Co., U.S. Vitamin and Miles Laboratories Inc. before moving into corporate executive positions with Merck and Pfizer Pharmaceuticals. In 1980, he was named vice president of Key Pharmaceuticals in Miami, Fla., and served on the Board of Directors of Key Pharmaceuticals of Puerto Rico, Inc. He also held the senior vice presidency and sat on the Board of Directors of Granutec, a drug company in Wilson.

After retiring from Granutec, Gant felt a call to be somewhere meaningful where he could help. In 2001, he came out of retirement to serve as CEO of NC State pharmaceutical start up BioMarck as the company developed a treatment for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

As a member of the NC State Engineering Foundation Board of Directors, he led a committee through the exhaustive process of selecting a professional investment team with a proven track record of success to manage the endowment and other assets of the College of Engineering. He also chaired the Foundation’s Development Committee, helping set a new standard for personal giving to the College by his fellow board members.

Fred and Beverly Gant met at an advertising party in New York City, where he returned after graduation to start his career in the pharmaceutical industry. The couple would stay in New Jersey until 1980, when they moved to Miami. In 1987, they returned home to Raleigh.

As an engineering student, Gant always appreciated the fact that there were professors who would make time to spend with students, that they made an effort to always be there. Gant paid that donation to student success forward to ISE students over the years.

The Gants were keenly interested in helping build a better future for young people who would otherwise not have many opportunities. “Fred always rooted for the underdog,” Beverly said of his motivation for establishing scholarships for ISE students. “Fred especially liked to see young people who had the drive, the intelligence and the desire promoted and rewarded.”

To watch the ceremony for Fred Gant held at this year’s homecoming event, go to Celebrating Fred Gant.