“You were so humble and felt inconsequential; yet you made such a difference. You toughed it all out—body, mind, and soul!”

Julie Gundlach, daughter

“Dad had the marvelous capacity to understand his insignificance in the universe, in the sight of God, while at the same time exerting whatever mortal power he could muster in his own little village.”

Gretchen Gundlach, daughter

“I appreciated your always-good humor and fun, your perspective, insights, and tremendous verve and leadership which you brought to anything you undertook… You added a special kind of presence. Thanks for your unique gift.”

Ralph J. Jalkanen, former President of Suomi College

“Herman Gundlach was a community builder in many, many ways. Besides the construction that he did as a contractor, he built volunteerism, community support and fundraising. When his name was behind a fundraising campaign, you knew it was top notch—his name echoed success.”

Ron Helman, Houghton Rotarian

“In my prime, I wasn’t as clever and sharp as he was at 90 years old.  His heart was always with the less fortunate and he proved it time and time again.”

Mark Lambert, Executive Director of U.P. Kids (formerly Good Will Farm)

“For the mental capacities given to me, I think I’ve done the best I could with my life.”

Herman “Winks” Gundlach, at age 90

“Always a smile and a kind word. A great guy!”

Ruby O’Neil

“I was fortunate enough to know him for a while in the early 90’s. He was very kind and friendly and so generous.”

Michelle Roy Nelson

“He cared deeply about his family, his community, everybody he met, and everybody that was suffering.”

Martha Gundlach, daughter

“Winks was always the best! I caddied for him a few times and cleaned his yard and he always was generous! Plus I used him for a reference for getting into the pipefitters union! One special person he was!!”

Dale Poyhonen

“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

“I saw Winks at the golf course one day and admired his golf cap because it was labeled for his company and had such a beautiful braid on the bill.  He accepted my admiration but said little else. We continued with our golf games. However, a few hours later, when I was sitting at home, there was a knock at my door. There appeared Winks’ house-keeper, Marie Savela, who said, ‘Mr. Gundlach asked me to give you this hat.’ I still cherish that hat to this day.”

James Spain, Houghton Rotarian

“Winks Gundlach was one of my Father’s best friends. They were one year apart and grew up together in Houghton going to the same schools. When Winks got the idea in his head to let women in to Rotary, my Dad was very much against it. He voted no and our club missed being the 1st club in the country by a couple of weeks or months because of this ongoing battle between Winks and my Dad.

“When I moved back to Houghton from being gone for 20 years, Winks would ask me every year if I would join Rotary? I would always say, ‘Well, You know how my Dad feels about that!’

“Finally in 2003, I asked my dad about me joining Houghton Rotary and he said, ‘I don’t care, I’m not a member anymore!’ So the day of my first Rotary meeting, Dad came to it and of course we sat with Winks. He introduced me to the club and told wonderful stories about my Dad and his Father before him that had been Houghton Rotarians and he was so grateful that Dad had let me become a 3rd generation Rotarian.

“One of the things that I remember most about Winks was his story telling and his generosity. He could always tell the best stories, but he would always ask everyone in the room to share their experiences and not take the spotlight himself. He always showed interest in the least likely of people. He was so sincere all the time.

“I used to take many photos at family and social gatherings that he would be at. He made sure that he would grab my camera and take pictures with me in the photos also. Just a fine and generous gentleman. I would probably not be a Houghton Rotarian if it weren’t for Winks. I think of him often, he is surely missed.”

Marilyn Swift, Houghton Rotarian

“I met Winks Gundlach when I joined the Houghton Rotary Club in January of 2004. He was welcoming and friendly right from the start. I felt like he was a natural mentor, encouraging me to strive for greater challenges and responsibilities both professionally and in Rotary. Although I only knew him a short time, I cherish those memories. I always looked forward to our talks. Our brief friendship was a gift that still brings me joy.”

Mari Buche, Houghton Rotarian

“Winks did not seek the limelight. It just came naturally. There was a genuine warmth in his friendship with those around him, and he was always quick to offer assistance to those in need. Winks was a wonderful role model and a truly inspiring personality. He was a powerful asset for this community.”

Donna Cole, Hancock Rotarian

“I first met ‘Winks’ when we moved here in 1985. It was at a Chamber of Commerce fundraiser — ‘Roasting’ Winks Gundlach. I did not know the ‘dignitaries’ doing the ‘roasting’, but they were rough on Winks. When it was Wink’s turn to give the ‘jabs’ back, he was hilarious. Our paths crossed many times after that evening in 1985. Winks and I were both in the Houghton Rotary Club. Every summer, Winks hosted a Rotary Club Picnic at his camp. Back in the old days, we would golf in the morning at Wyandotte Hills, then return to his camp where we would have a softball game, horseshoes, shuffle board, and skeet shooting. In the evening after the barbecue, we would play cards until the wee hours of the morning.

“Winks had many wonderful attributes. He was friends with everybody, no matter what your ‘ranking’ on the ‘social scale’ was. What really made him a hero to me was his philanthropic nature–everything from establishing the Barbara Kettle Gundlach Shelter Home to establishing a book club for children.

“Winks would always greet everybody with a smile. He made a person feel like he or she was a lifelong friend. Winks’ legacy will long be remembered.”

Tom Cole, Houghton Rotarian

“He was probably the most patient, understanding, and honest person I have ever known. I remember his words on the way to a new project. He said, ‘I want you to be superintendent on this job, do a good job, give the owner everything the plans and specs call for.’ It impressed me an awful lot because what more could you ask for? He was the most honest man I could imagine working for. He was honest to his employees. He was honest to his patrons.”

Paul Frair, former V.P. of Herman Gundlach Inc. and lifelong friend