Bulldog Bites

News and Views from the University of Redlands

In memoriam: Rich Hunsaker (1931–2021)

Rich Hunsaker ’52 and his wife, Virginia Hunsaker '52, transformed the University of Redlands with their extraordinary generosity. (Photo by Carlos Puma)
University of Redlands President Ralph W. Kuncl and President Emeritus James R. Appleton write to the community with the news of Rich Hunsaker's passing. 

We come to you tonight with the saddest of news.

Last Monday, we wrote to share the devastating news that our beloved Virginia “Ginnie” Moses Hunsaker ’52 had passed away.  Today, we learned of another heart-wrenching loss—Lifetime Trustee and Honorary Degree recipient Richard C. Hunsaker ’52 died peacefully on Tuesday at the age of 89.  When announcing news of Ginnie’s passing last week, we described the moment as the end of an era, and that distinction is now even more fully realized as we mourn our esteemed colleague and friend, Rich. 

Alongside Ginnie, Rich transformed the University of Redlands in unparalleled ways, with innumerable contributions of time, talent, and treasure.  His legacy, like Ginnie’s, is incomparable.

 The impact of Rich and Ginnie’s remarkable philanthropy is truly unmatched, and their philanthropic legacy perhaps is most evident in the ongoing “ripple effect” of their investments on all members of the University community—past, present, and future.  Their spirit and vision continues to be felt through the Hunsaker Scholarship Prize; the endowed deanship he helped secure for the School of Business; endowed faculty positions in management, teaching, and global business; student science research opportunities; and the numerous locations on campus touched by their generosity, most notably the Hunsaker University Center.  

“Redlands is a small university, and our gifts can really make a difference more than if we were giving to someone with a huge endowment,” Rich said.  “We can see the good that our gifts do, and I think that’s the main motivation for us to give.” 

Last summer, Rich was selected by the Board of Trustees as the recipient of the Mattison B. Jones Trustee Medal for Exceptional Service—a medal named after the Board’s first chair, who served 34 years—awarded only in truly exceptional circumstances.  It was a fitting tribute to Rich, whose comprehensive tenure on the Board of Trustees exceeded the award’s namesake by more than a decade.  Since the start of Rich’s service on the Board of Trustees in 1974, we were abundantly fortunate to benefit from his inspired leadership, business acumen, and unwavering love for Redlands.  In addition to serving on the Executive, Campus Planning, Finance, and Executive Evaluation and Compensation committees, Rich was named Trustee Chair in 1985, a position he held for the next 15 years.  He was honored with the distinction of Trustee Emeritus in 2015 and Lifetime Trustee in 2020. 

In addition to his Board service, Rich assumed other volunteer positions at Redlands including on the Alumni Association Board of Directors and Class of 1952 Reunion Committee.  He and Ginnie co-chaired the $100 million Centennial Campaign and, most recently, were honorary chairs of the current $200 million Forever Yours campaign, with Lifetime Trustee Alice Mozley ’70 serving as chair.  To commemorate his outstanding volunteerism, Rich was the recipient of numerous additional U of R honors, including the Centennial Award, 75th Anniversary Alumni Award, Alumni Association Distinguished Service Award, and Career Achievement Award.

Rich began his career in the U.S. Navy right after high school during the Korean War.  At the University, he majored in business and minored in government.  Despite the fact that he had never played before he came to Redlands, his passion was football.  In his words: “The coach took one look at me, saw the way I ran, and he said, ‘Do you really run that way?’  He was amazed anybody could even go forward in the way that I ran.  I was a benchwarmer.” 

A member of Pi Chi fraternity and Yeomen honors society, Rich met Ginnie when they were first-year students together serving in the Associated Students of University of Redlands.  Reportedly after their first date (a Pi Chi ski party), Rich went home and told his parents he had met his future wife.

After he graduated from Redlands, Rich followed his father into the real estate development/property management business, S.V. Hunsaker & Sons.  He rose through the ranks to become the company’s president in his early 30s.  In 1966, Rich formed his own enterprise, Hunsaker Development Company, managing over three million square feet of properties located throughout Southern California.  

As we celebrate Rich’s life and honor his many contributions, we recall the genuine passion in his voice when he said in a recent campaign video, “This University is forever yours.”  Rich and Ginnie fully embodied this sentiment. And so, too, will Rich and Ginnie be forever ours, held always in our hearts with the deepest gratitude and admiration. 

Our hearts are broken.  We speak for so many in our present community but also for our friends and colleagues, past and future.  We encourage you to take yet another look at these touching photo and video collections to reminisce about our departed friends and to remind ourselves why we are here.

If you wish to share your personal condolences with the Hunsaker family, please direct them through one of the following channels: