President’s Letter

Each year I write a letter for the annual report as I have for the last 20 years.

This year, in recounting the work of The George Gund Foundation, it is with sadness that I note the death in early 2013 of my brother George Gund III who was a faithful Trustee of the Foundation for 32 years. George was the second family Trustee to join the Foundation and was, at his death, the longest serving Trustee on the Foundation Board.

George made a steadfast contribution to the Foundation in a wide variety of areas. He hardly missed a meeting in his years of tenure, and he was always available for comment on his wide-ranging interests which often overlapped with those of the Foundation. In addition to his worldwide pursuits in film, sports and the arts, George had an interest in a wide number of concerns in the Cleveland area. He was on the boards of the Cleveland International Film Festival, the Cleveland Orchestra and the Cleveland Museum of Art. He conceived the idea of the Cleveland Cinematheque at the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1980 and was a founding trustee of that organization in 1984.

George supported the Foundation at a most personal level, making available and fully sponsoring three retreats of The George Gund Foundation Board and staff at his ranch in Elko, Nevada, in June 1982, July 1997 and July 2007. These retreats gave Foundation program officers and Trustees a chance to meet and reflect on the work of the Foundation in a superb setting. Our meetings lasted three full days and were very productive. In the evenings, George provided unforgettable entertainment that reflected his unique interest in the West – whether it was readings by cowboy poets or a dance performance by a local Basque group.

As with any encounter with George, those gatherings reflected both his larger-than-life quality and his exuberantly childlike nature that could only ignite a sympathetic response. Everybody was able to relate to George; he asked the child inside of you to come out and play.

George’s warmheartedness was always at the forefront in his relations with the Foundation. His ready smile, his gentle humor and his good-natured easy friendliness were unique and will be deeply missed.

George had many enthusiasms – hockey, the West, travel and film among them. Art played an important role in George’s life, and in his final year as a Trustee he participated in awarding the Foundation’s largest grant of 2012 – $5 million – to the Cleveland Museum of Art for its stunning renovation and expansion project. The wing that houses the museum’s education programs, innovative Gallery One and Gartner Auditorium is now called the Gund Family Pavilion. George would have been delighted by the many visitors watching films in the auditorium, learning more about art in the education classrooms and using new technology to better appreciate the masterpieces housed throughout the museum.

In its first meeting of 2013, the Foundation made several grants in George’s memory that will continue to support the Cleveland programs he cared about so deeply. The George Gund III Memorial Central and Eastern European Film Competition at the Cleveland International Film Festival, the George Gund III Fund for Artistic Excellence at the Cleveland Orchestra and an endowment contribution to the Cinematheque will carry on his good work.

George’s wide-ranging interests, commitment to philanthropy and affection for Cleveland also will live on in the efforts of the Foundation as we continue the work started by our father.

Geoffrey Gund Signature

Geoffrey Gund
President and Treasurer