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A Father, A Son, a Passion for Giving Back

Professor Paul Prescott left a legacy of service and selflessness

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Paul Prescott, ’88, failed his first test in an audiology class at Bridgewater State, but not for reasons one would expect.

Prescott’s learning disability made it difficult for him to take a written exam. When the professor allowed him to retake the test orally, he scored an A. 

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“After that, she got to see that I wasn’t looking for any handouts,” said Prescott, who majored in communication disorders and minored in psychology. “I just need to take in information differently.”

Accommodating students’ needs is something at which Bridgewater excels – today and when Prescott was a student in the 1980s. It’s also a hallmark of his father’s dedication to serving others. Dr. Paul Prescott was a longtime Bridgewater State special education professor – and so much more.

The elder Prescott, who taught at Bridgewater until about a decade ago and died in 2010, helped families of disabled children push school districts for adequate services. He didn’t charge for his help or expertise, opting instead to pass on the goodwill someone showed him when he himself was advocating on behalf of his son.

“My dad was a pretty amazing man,” the younger Prescott recalled. “My dad is my hero and I was lucky in that I got a chance to tell him that multiple times.”

Dr. Prescott was as comfortable in the classroom as he was in the woods cutting down a tree. “He could wield a chainsaw like a surgeon could wield a scalpel,” his son said.

He was also committed to serving his country, and did so for more than three decades in the U.S. Army. His jobs included chief of staff for the 818th Hospital Center in Georgia and inspector general for the 77th Army Reserve Command in New York. He achieved the rank of colonel and was honored with the Legion of Merit for his dedication and leadership. He was, his son recalled, a natural leader who would never criticize a subordinate in public. 

Such selflessness breeds more of the same.

Roy Noepel, ’92, met Professor Prescott through Paul Prescott. The Norwood resident last year decided to donate one of his kidneys to a total stranger. Mr. Noepel cited his friend's father as inspiration.

“He had a great influence on me,” Mr. Noepel said. “I’m just carrying it on.”

The younger Prescott also carried on his father’s legacy of serving others by volunteering on local government boards and with Make-A-Wish New Hampshire.

Dr. Prescott also knew about perseverance, as he did not let growing up in Maine as part of a household with limited income hinder his life goals. He clearly passed that trait on to his son, too.

The younger Prescott overcame his disability, thanks to his parents and the support he received at Bridgewater State. He credits the school with improving his interpersonal skills and helping him develop in other ways. He now lives in Amherst, New Hampshire, and is employed in information technology at BAE Systems.  

“Being learning disabled, I had to constantly work and continue to work to compensate for my disability,” he said. Bridgewater “gave me the vehicle to be able to be successful, because no matter how hard you work, it just doesn’t work if you don’t have the support mechanism.” (Story by Brian Benson, University News)

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