In 1973 Guy David Gundlach graduated from Elkhart Memorial High School and went off to college in California. The Elkhart native eventually went on to work for IBM and Lloyds of London before launching Hastings Direct, an insurance company in Hastings, England.
After selling Hastings Direct, Gundlach moved back to Los Angeles and started a movie production company. In 2009 his company produced the movie “Get Low” starring Bill Murray, Sissy Spacek and Robert Duvall. Over the course of his lifetime Gundlach managed to build an extraordinary financial fortune.
With that fortune Gunlach dedicated himself to philanthropic missions. He would travel to Russia, Romania, Northern Africa and Sri Lanka in his support of orphanages and scholarship programs. Still, Gundlach never forgot his roots here in Elkhart County. He died last year of a heart attack in Malibu, Calif., at the age of 56.
Before his death, Gundlach took steps to leave much of his fortune to the Elkhart County Community Foundation. On Monday foundation officials announced that Gundlach has left $125 million to the foundation, one of the largest individual charitable donations in the history of the United States.
The Elkhart County Community Foundation has served this community since 1989. According to the organization’s Facebook page, the foundation issued more than $3.6 million in community grants during the most recent fiscal year. That money went to serve the arts and entertainment community, educational services and health and human services in Elkhart County. Gundlach’s gift will only enhance the health and quality of life here.
All of us should be humbled by Gundlach’s generosity toward our community. According to his friend, Liz Borger, Gundlach loved Elkhart and its surrounding communities. His mother, Marge Swift, said, “He was happiest,” at home in Elkhart.
The beautiful thing about such a gift isn’t the dollar amount; it’s that a community can have such an impact on a person’s life that says so much. Gundlach didn’t owe us anything, yet he has given us so much. It can be easy to take what we have here for granted. Gundlach didn’t. It seems the best way to honor his legacy is to love and respect this community as he did.