ELKHART, Ind. (AP) — A late businessman's $150 million gift to his northern Indiana hometown has led others to donate money, the leader of the county's charitable foundation said.
The Elkhart County Community Foundation has received much of the donation from insurance executive David Gundlach's estate that was announced in August, boosting its holdings from $43 million to about $185 million with some of Gundlach's assets still to be sold, foundation President Pete McCown told The Elkhart Truth for a story Wednesday (http://bit.ly/ToUovx ).
McCown said that gifts from a pair of other estates to the foundation will soon add $10 million and a couple is planning a $1 million donation.
"The door has been opening and closing and opening and closing and opening and closing like we would never have imagined, with people being generous," McCown said.
Gundlach grew up in Elkhart and made his fortune in insurance, including founding the English company Hastings Direct. He died last year in California at age 56.
"Folks have asked me, do you think Dave's gift is going to suppress giving in our community and cause people to say why would they need my money?" McCown said. "The precise opposite is true, at least in this interim."
Elkhart County, which is just east of South Bend, struggled with a double-digit unemployment rate after the recreational vehicle industry collapsed during the last recession.
McCown said the foundation's board has been considering how to allocate an estimated $8 million in grants each year, rather than the $800,000 a year it has been awarding.
That work has included many meetings with community groups and others about how the money should be directed in a process that McCown calls "a formal research project."
"Everyone's been thinking about this in the community," he said.
Gundlach's gift will be "transformative to Elkhart County," McCown said.
"I think it's actually going to inspire the whole county to believe that a brighter, better future is possible and then do something about it themselves, even if we can't fund every good idea," he said.
Information from: The Elkhart Truth, http://www.etruth.com