More than 200 students, staff, alumni, and friends gathered at the University of Redlands Memorial Chapel on October 14 to celebrate the lives of Rich Hunsaker ’52 and Ginnie Moses Hunsaker ’52, who passed away in January, just nine days apart. Among the University’s most honored and beloved alumni, the couple shared a lasting love for their alma mater and transformed the University in unparalleled ways.
Following a heartfelt invocation from Omer E. Robbins Chaplain Emeritus John Walsh (“Even the angels in heaven have learned the ‘Och Tamale’”), President Krista Newkirk welcomed attendees. “While I never had the privilege of meeting Rich and Ginnie in person, it was clear from the beginning of my time with the University of Redlands how incredibly important they have been to our institution’s past, present, and future,” said Newkirk.
In recognizing the lasting “ripple effect” the couple created at the University, Newkirk introduced the Hunsaker Philanthropy Platform Party. Forty individuals were seated on the Chapel stage to represent the scholarships, endowed chairs, capital projects, academic departments, and programs the Hunsakers supported through their philanthropy. “Each has a Redlands story that was made possible by the Hunsakers,” said Newkirk. “On behalf of those represented today and those future generations who experience the University of Redlands as a result of their immeasurable gifts of time, talent, and treasure, we are forever grateful for Rich and Ginnie Hunsaker.”
U of R Trustee Larry Burgess ’67, director emeritus of A.K. Smiley Public Library, offered a historical reflection on the couple’s seven decades of impact at the University. “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to them,” said Burgess, who spoke of the couple’s firm loyalty to Redlands. “They were the most important duo to set guidelines and markers for the history of this institution.”
Richard Fisher ’65 succeeded Rich as chair of the University’s Board of Trustees. “He consistently demonstrated confidence in the University,” said Fisher. “His leadership benefited campus life directly, including everything you see around us.” Fisher also recognized Ginnie’s longtime service on the Student Life Committee, noting that Rich and Ginnie continued to serve as Life Trustees. “They led by quiet example rather than by demand or command.”
President Emeritus James Appleton recalled meeting the couple in 1987 at the Center Club in Orange County. “They convinced us with their enthusiasm to join the U of R, and their advice was invaluable,” said Appleton. “I learned about leadership from the master mentor,” Appleton noted of Rich—he also praised Ginnie’s “observance in the interests and needs of others.”
Appleton and Newkirk unveiled a commissioned painting of the Hunsakers that will hang in the University Center that bears their name. “Future generations of Bulldogs will pass by this painting and feel the love and devotion this couple had to their dear ol’ U of R.” The painting was created by portrait artist Robert Semans, represented by Galerie Gabrie of Pasadena.
Ayah Musleh ’19 was among the first cohort of Hunsaker Scholars beginning in 2015. “Because of Rich and Ginnie, I was able to achieve my dreams,” said Musleh. “What was impossible became possible for us, and the thankfulness we have for them will impact the way we lead the rest of our lives.”
Three of the Hunsakers’ children, Edie Hunsaker Barvin, David Hunsaker, and Debbie Hunsaker Edgcomb, shared moving reflections of their parents.
“While going through their home,” recalls Barvin, “we came upon boxes filled with hundreds of letters written by many of the people in this room. They saved every one of your letters, and that demonstrates how much they meant to them.”
David spoke to his parents’ “incredible work ethic and drive to succeed” and how they were “a constant and reassuring presence in our lives.”
Edgcomb recognized the “amazing influence they had on so many people,” commenting that “they would have loved to be here today at their beloved alma mater and would be so proud.”
The memorial, which included two musical selections from the Chapel Singers, concluded with bagpiper Richard Cook, who played “Amazing Grace” as attendees processed outside for a champagne reception.
Learn more about the Hunsakers’ lasting legacy at the University of Redlands.