With his latest six-figure gift to update the St. John Francis Regis Chapel’s lighting, William Fortune 40-year history of generosity and leadership at Regis continues.

William Fortune is a familiar and regular presence on Regis University’s campus. A devout Catholic, he attends Mass in the St. John Francis Regis Chapel every Sunday with his nephew, John. As a lifetime member of the Regis Board of Trustees, he regularly attends meetings to help steward University resources and fortify its future. He can also at times be found strolling the campus grounds, inspired by the buildings, plants, and trees.

“Many times, when I walk the quad, particularly in the fall with the colors, there’s a tranquility, a real beauty about it,” says William, known to most as Bill. “I hope that more people will see and experience it as I do – the mission, the Jesuit mystique and charisma. I take pride in having gone to Regis and in playing some small part in the Regis story.”

In fact, for many years, Bill and his family have played a very large role in the Regis story. Most significantly, they are the major benefactors of the St. John Francis Regis Chapel, which opened its doors in 2006. The five-year, $7-million project was completed with a major gift from the John and Florence Fortune Foundation, which Bill established with his sister, Patricia Tobey, in honor of their parents. Today, the St. John Francis Regis Chapel is the spiritual anchor of Regis and a gathering place for the Denver Catholic community and Regis students, staff, faculty, and neighbors.

“The chapel is very symbolic of what Regis is about,” says Bill, who was very active in its design. “It’s an important vehicle to bring the students closer to their faith and to their God. The chapel touches many people in many different ways. Sometimes I’ll stop in during the day to see a student just sitting, maybe studying. The space generates an inner peace for so many.”

Bill also supported the development of Fortune Plaza, the pavilion that connects the chapel to the rest of the campus. The plaza is home to a memorial to Kathy Fortune, Bill’s wife and partner in service, faith, and family, who died in 2008. Together, the two co-chaired the five-year, $82 million Campaign for Regis led by then-President Fr. Michael J. Sheeran, S.J., which included the effort to build the St. John Francis Regis Chapel.

Because the St. John Francis Regis Chapel and Fortune Plaza are Regis landmarks, requiring ongoing care, Bill recently pledged a six-figure gift to underwrite an upgrade of the lighting system. This most recent donation is an example of the many ways the Fortunes support Regis. They have funded a diverse array of University programs, from scholarships and student activities to the Porter Billups Leadership Academy. Bill recently made a $10,000 gift as a founding member of The President’s Circle, a new giving group to support initiatives of the President’s Innovation Fund. He has also committed an estate gift.

Bill’s deep devotion to Regis is rooted in his long association with the University. It started with his father, John Fortune, who took night classes at Regis College in the early 1950s while starting a successful career in Colorado banking. As John studied bookkeeping and accounting, the University’s Jesuit values resonated with him.

“He was a wonderful community banker,” says Bill. “Even back then, he focused on helping people and making a difference in their lives. My parents taught my sister and me that when you’ve been fortunate and given much, much is expected. They always taught us to give and to try to make this a better world.”

Bill graduated from Regis Jesuit High School, then located in Main Hall (aka the Pink Palace), before enrolling in the business administration program at Regis College. He graduated in 1969, earned a law degree, and embarked on his own successful banking career. He stayed connected to Regis through the years as an alumnus, which proved to be a blessing. At a golf tournament organized by the Regis alumni office, Bill met Kathy, who worked at Regis and who would soon become his wife. They married at Regis in 1983, in the chapel previously located in Carroll Hall.

Throughout their marriage, Bill and Kathy were devoted to philanthropy and service, much of it tied to Regis. With others, they co-founded Seeds of Hope which was opened to keep inner-city Catholic schools open and available to economically challenged families. They also played a significant role at Arrupe Jesuit High School, helping create a pathway for students to attend Regis. Many students connected to Seeds of Hope and Arrupe Jesuit have graduated from the University, thanks to the Fortune family’s support.

Sadly, Kathy died not long after the St. John Francis Regis Chapel was completed. In addition to her memorial on Fortune Plaza, Kathy’s memory and impact live on through two scholarship funds established in her name: The Kathy Fortune Memorial Scholarship, which was established and funded by close friends of the Fortune family to honor Kathy’s memory and service, and the Kathy Fortune Arrupe Scholarship, which is supported through an endowment established by the John and Florence Fortune Foundation. Bill explains the foundation as a cross-generational opportunity to keep the family’s philanthropy alive and impactful now and into the future. His daughter Molly, who graduated from Regis University; son, Casey and nephew, John, both graduates of Jesuit universities, are all actively involved. For Bill, ensuring the Regis experience is available to others in the future is one way to try to make the world better, as urged by his parents.

“Denver is so fortunate to have a Jesuit university within its city limits. It’s an incredible asset to the community,” he says. “The way Regis will continue to live out its mission is to be financially viable. That’s going to depend on many of us supporting it as best as we can.”

I am deeply grateful to Bill and the entire Fortune family for their profound belief in our mission and support of our work. We are honored to play a significant role in the family’s life and the memory and legacy of Kathy Fortune, and we look forward to continuing to build Regis’ bright future together.

headshot of bill fortune 

Regis donor Bill Fortune