We are saddened to announce the passing of Citroën lover and owner Francis Voigt, who died on May 21, 2018 at home in Cabot VT, after a long illness, (and a very long way from the nearest Citroen mechanic). 

“Fran,” as he was known to everyone, was co-founder of the New England Culinary Institute and is best remembered by many in the Citroën community for his organizing two outings to Burlington VT, for Citroën Club owners to visit the Institute, enjoy a selection of fine foods, participate in a cooking class and take their cars on a scenic Vermont drive.

During the driving portion of his 78 year life Fran always had at least one Citroën and for many years he had 2—one to drive, one for parts.  He also made a lifelong convert of his wife Ellen (of 52 years!) and his father-in-law down in Virginia.  Attending Rendezvous at Saratoga Springs NY was an important annual event for Fran, even when illness made travel extremely difficult. 

Fran was born in in Oskaloosa, Iowa, March 27, 1940, after his parents emigrated from Germany.  He graduated from Wesleyan University in 1962 and earned a graduate degree in political theory from the University of Iowa where he met his wife, Ellen Bryant Voigt.  The couple came to central Vermont as educational idealists in 1969, when Fran accepted a teaching position at Goddard College.  His gifts for administration and creative educational design were quickly apparent and during his 10 years at Goddard, he developed pioneering programs in social ecology, art therapy and other fields.

With the founding of NECI in 1980, Fran found the vehicle for far-reaching educational innovation.  In his unique curriculum design— combining hands-on learning, competency-based assessment, internships in the industry and a low faculty-student ratio — “the NECI way” was first endorsed by Julia Child, then confirmed by the many international accolades still being received by NECI alums, and recognized with second place in the 1994 National Small Business Person of the Year competition, an award presented by President Clinton at the White House.  Meanwhile, NECI had made Vermont a food destination through its classroom kitchens in Montpelier, Burlington and Essex and its farm-to-table initiatives, attracting young people to come to and stay in Vermont, as he did.

Fran’s exceptional creativity in thinking through complex issues led to his service on numerous national boards, accrediting agencies and educational commissions.  Although he often described himself as “just a friendly guy from the Midwest,” Fran was also committed to active citizenship in his adopted state and provided leadership to the Vermont Business Roundtable, Rotary International and the Cabot School, and the Vermont Chamber of Commerce named him Vermont Citizen of the Year in 2000.  Despite all these achievements, and the eccentricity of his signature bow tie and antique Citroëns, he maintained his deeply-engrained modesty and his kindness toward others, which inspired confidence and reciprocal loyalty.

He is survived by his wife, Ellen; his daughter, Dudley; his son, Will; his grandchildren, Mia, Colby and Nala; his brothers, David Voigt (Sue Neufeld) and Rick Voigt (Annemarie Riemer- Voigt); and numerous nieces and nephews. 

There will be a celebration of Fran’s life this summer for his many friends and colleagues, with a time and place yet to be determined.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in his name to the NECI Scholarship Fund or the Vermont Foodbank.