Hard work is a Comley family value.
In 1968, Virginia and James Comley of Bedford founded their own elevator service and repair business, and over the next four decades built it into one of the largest companies in New England. They also raised four children, and taught them the value of working and studying hard. “Nothing,” Virginia says, “beats a great education.”
Their daughter, Bonnie, took these lessons to heart. After earning her business degree from UMass Lowell, she went on to become one of Broadway’s top producers, earning three Tony Awards with her husband, Stewart Lane, and co-founding the streaming service Broadway HD. Along the way, the couple also became generous backers of UML’s Theatre Arts program. The university’s Comley-Lane Theatre, named in their honor, recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.
This year also marks a major milestone for Virginia and James, who will celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary this fall. To honor the power of her parents’ example, Bonnie Comley and Lane have endowed a major new scholarship in their names. At last spring’s Celebration of Scholarship, Chancellor Jacquie Moloney presented the first Virginia and James Comley Scholarship to Abdi Shariff-Hassan ’21, a business administration major, and recognized the Comleys as honorary UMass Lowell alumni.
“We believe that a college education creates opportunities for better-paying, higher-skilled jobs, and prepares people socially and intellectually for life,” says Virginia. Jokes James: “And we hope our many, many, many years of hard work set a good example for students!”