Who Is Commander Al Vittek?
Commander Al Vittek has been a St. Mary's parishioner since 1959. All three of his children—at some time—attended the school. He remembers it in those days as "a small school with very strict nuns."
He was born in northeast Baltimore in 1921. He is a second-generation American whose family came from Bavaria and Bohemia. He attended St. Michael's in Overlea and Kenwood High, both in Baltimore County. In 1937, when he turned 16, he enlisted in the Navy with his parents' approval and the agreement that he would finish high school first before being called.
He was called to duty in 1938. After World War II, where he served in Algeria, Italy, England, France (including Normandy) and the Pacific, he made the Navy his career. This decision took him around the world to Korea, through five commands, to the Naval War College, and on a final tour at the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA), where he was the head of navigation instruction. He was promoted 12 times up to the level of commander.
In the Navy, Commander Vittek spent a lot of time at sea while Mary raised the children. He was away so much that once when he left, after being home on leave, his youngest daughter thought he was a stranger who had taken the family's car. His military salary also made it hard to pay for three children in high school getting ready for college, so he left his naval career in 1960 to become the "first stockbroker in Annapolis" that year.
It took Commander Al three years to establish a contact base to earn a living and support his family. When he took his first paycheck home, he was a bit discouraged. He showed the check to his wife and said, "We can eat it, drink it, or frame it." In the coming years, he succeeded in his new career. By 1999, after managing at Alex Brown for 30 years, he moved to RBC Dain Rauscher. He retired in the early years of this decade.
What motivated him to begin giving?
He began supporting St. Mary's in the early '90s when Father Tom Sigonolfi was pastor. Commander Vittek was the stockbroker for the church.
Additionally, he saw a great need to provide financial support to families wishing to send their children to St. Mary's School. Commander Vittek became a pioneer member of the St. Mary's Legacy League by establishing an endowment to create income to support the tuition assistance program in perpetuity.
How do you see giving to the endowment as different from giving to offertory or restoration and maintenance?
"It offers the opportunity to designate how money can be used." Commander Vittek really wanted to see his endowment become tuition assistance directed toward students who value a Catholic education.
What would you say to other parishioners who are considering an endowment gift?
"People should take the time to explore the benefits of giving. Stock is so easy to give and get; you get to give the gift and get a tax benefit. Plus, by supporting St. Mary's, you can give without being subject to capital gains. It's a painless way to give."
St. Mary's is deeply grateful to Commander Al Vittek. Students and families will benefit from his generosity for many years to come.