Herman Gundlach Fund

“He was probably the most patient, understanding, and honest person I have ever known.”

– Paul Frair, former Vice President and lifelong friend


“I always was amazed at the way he gives credit to other people for the success of his company.”

– Brad Carrigan, representing the Associated General Contractors of America, about Herman “Winks” Gundlach Jr.

From captain of the Houghton High School and Harvard University football teams to a captain of industry, Herman “Winks” Gundlach Jr. was a man of many passions. From 1946 until he retired in 1988, his Gundlach Construction company built many of the major structures in the Upper Peninsula. A humble man, Winks gave credit for many of his accomplishments to others. He revered the tradesmen of the area, and Winks stayed up late looking over his payroll, knowing that these names didn’t just represent employees, but local families.

Besides being a successful businessman, he was a prominent activist. Upon his death at age 91 in 2005, instructions were laid out about how to continue his legacy of giving back to the community he grew up in and worked in. Through the Herman Gundlach Fund, Winks continues to leave his mark on the community For Good. For Ever.


Even with his passing, Winks wanted people to know he’s still here for them. Based on these recent thank you letters to the Herman Gundlach Fund, it’s safe to say his generous spirit remains with us still.

As he said at a Houghton High School Commencement, he believed in “the collective efforts of all of us” to resolve conflicts, “to live and act with a social conscience, according to a rigorous affirmation of the rights of all to an improved quality of life.” He concluded, “Go for it. Go for that.”


Winks championed the cause of end-of-life dignity and autonomy—with hospice and palliative care as well as the “Living Will”, or Advanced Care Directive. With funds from the Herman Gundlach Fund, KCF recently partnered with Omega House to promote Advance Care Planning (ACP) by providing and distributing ACP resources for the general public and health care providers in the community.

For 2016, the Herman Gundlach Fund of the Keweenaw Community Foundation (KCF) has announced it will award $69,531.75 to 17 local organizations to fund projects addressing community needs. The individual grant amount ranges from $1,375 to $5,000.

The grant recipients are:

  • Omega House for continued funding for their Caring Hands Massage Therapy program.
  • Houghton Middle School, Keweenaw Invasive Species Management Area, and Lake Superior Stewardship Initiative for the Houghton Middle School Environmental & Sustainability Science project to increase participation and hands-on opportunities for 7th and 8th grade science students at Houghton Middle School.
  • Trap Rock 4-H Club and Calumet Art Center for the Club Youth Art Program to create and develop art activities for 22 youth ages 6-17.
  • Keweenaw Family Resource Center for the Strong Families Keweenaw project to provide families with young children opportunities that will increase their family wellbeing, knowledge to support the health of their children, and access to community resources.
  • Michigan Tech Fund for the Parade of Nations to serve the community with an innovative and unique international experience.
  • Superior School of Gymnastics and Lake Linden-Hubbell Public Schools to purchase a Tumbl Trak (Porta Trak) that is designed to prevent injuries and can be utilized at every age and level as well as for skill training in all gymnastics events.
  • Western Upper Peninsula Healthcare Access Coalition to facilitate access to quality, affordable oral health care to residents with limited income and a lack of dental insurance.
  • Copper Country Humane Society for SNAP (Spay/Neuter Assistance Program) to provide financial assistance to help spay and neuter animals in our community.
  • Keweenaw Heritage Center at St. Anne’s to augment funds for winterization, locks, and repairs to glass blocks in order to continue to provide a secure venue for the transmission of heritage activities and life events.
  • Canterbury House for the Food Pantry & Meals project to help alleviate hunger in our community.
  • Southern Keweenaw Trails for the Soke Trailhead & System Development project to purchase a trailhead map, trail intersection maps, picnic tables, grills, and trail maintenance supplies for the Greenland and Keweenaw Trails System.
  • Carnegie Museum for the “Music at the Museum” series to provide honoraria for performers and for refreshments for a series of five musical event fundraisers for the Museum.
  • U.P. Kids: Big Brothers Big Sisters in support of their High Five Mentoring program serving children and youth in the CLK School District.
  • Houghton MI Skatepark project to build a 3,200 sq. ft., professionally built concrete outdoor skatepark to provide a designated quality area to support the youth and adults that pursue skating and BMX cycling as a sport.
  • Swedetown Trails Club to replace major equipment needed to sustain and improve winter recreation trails at Swedetown.
  • Little Brothers—Friends of the Elderly to provide crucially-needed operational support for their supplemental firewood program which helps offset the high cost of heating during the winter for the elderly who still heat with wood.
  • Dial Help to sustain youth crisis and suicide intervention services.

To learn more, please visit the Keweenaw Community Foundation’s website at www.keweenawgives.org