Michel Joseph (Mike) Fortier, entrepreneur, successful businessman, devoted husband and father, rejoined his beloved late wife of 63 years on Saturday, August 4, 2012.
Mike Fortier was born on June 2, 1922 in Casper, Wyoming. He spent his early life in Louisiana, attending Fortier High School, Isidore Newman and Tulane College in New Orleans. He graduated from Purdue University in l943 with a degree in engineering. While pursuing his studies at Purdue, Mike met the one true love of his life, Mary Jane Snyder. They were married at Yale College, in New Haven, Connecticut, while Mike was a cadet in the Army Air Corps.
Mike served in World War II in the South Pacific as a lieutenant in the Air Corps. Following the War he joined the White Motor Company of Cleveland, Ohio as an engineer. He later joined Bryant Manufacturing Company, headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, as an engineer and subsequently moved into the marketing department and rapidly climbed the corporate ladder. In the early 1970’s, Mike was appointed Vice-President of Engineering and several years later was promoted to Executive Vice-President and Director of Marketing for Bryant.
In 1975, Mike and Mary Jane moved from Indianapolis to Conway, Arkansas, when Mike took a position as Vice-President of Marketing for Universal Nolin. While he enjoyed his corporate success, Mike had always yearned to strike out on his own and build a business from the ground up. In 1980, Mike and Mary Jane together founded Fortier, Inc., as a distributor of Universal Nolin products and other convenience store equipment. The start-up company’s founders and only employees included Mike’s youngest son, Richard David (Rick) with Mary Jane initially working for free. As the business grew under Mike’s leadership, the number of employees grew as well and included his three sons-in-law and his youngest daughter, Patricia Ann (Patty) Maguire. By the time Mike retired in 1992, Fortier, Inc. was well on the way to becoming the largest independent supplier of convenience store equipment in the country, a position the firm enjoys today. For years after his retirement, Mike continued on the board-of-directors and as a valued consultant for the company’s current leadership.
In addition to his business interests, Mike firmly believed that in an opportunity society, every child should have access to an excellent education. He backed his passion for educational excellence with action and in conjunction with the University of Central Arkansas financed a course on educational leadership within the University’s School of Education.
Mike Fortier is survived by his four remaining children, Michel Joseph Fortier III of Punta Gorda, Florida; Sharon Elizabeth Sexson of Tulsa, Oklahoma; Suzanne Fortier Cunningham of Germantown, Tennessee, and Patricia Ann Maguire of Greers Ferry, Arkansas, as well as ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Memorial services for Mike will he held Monday, August 20, 2012 at 1:00 p.m. at Roller-McNutt Funeral Home in Conway, AR.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the UCA Mary Jane Fortier Leadership Scholarship, The University Foundation Development, 201 Donaghey Avenue, Conway, AR 72035.