Wallace's board of directors and employees were saddened to learn of the passing of George V. Grune, 83, the business leader who played a pivotal role in the formation and development of The Wallace Foundation.
To honor his memory, the foundation awarded grants to two of Grune’s favorite charities. Kevin Kennedy, chairman of the foundation, and Will Miller, foundation president, released the following statements.
"George Grune was a distinguished business leader, who joined The Reader's Digest Association as an advertising salesman in 1960 and rose to become its chairman and CEO in 1984, a position that he held with distinction until his retirement. George was also known for his commitment to charitable causes, giving generously of his time and resources to organizations ranging from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America to the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra.
Through his dynamic leadership from 1984 to 2002, George set the four small family predecessor foundations of The Wallace Foundation on a course to becoming a single national philanthropy characterized by an innovative blend of giving and knowledge development. With his close personal understanding of the philanthropic goals of our founders, DeWitt and Lila Acheson Wallace, George focused our grants on the areas of education, arts and communities. On his watch, we contributed more than $800 million to these worthy causes. Just as important, the knowledge we developed under George's leadership established the foundations of our current programs, which seek to find workable solutions to problems in education leadership, arts education, audience development for the arts, afterschool, summer learning and expanded learning.
We are deeply appreciative of George's accomplishments and send our deepest condolences to his wife, Betty Lu; children; and grandchildren."
"Wallace staff members, former and present, recall George Grune as an inspirational leader and a warm, good humored and thoughtful person. We are perhaps most indebted to George for his foresight in having guided the foundation toward the distinctive approach to philanthropy that characterizes Wallace today: testing ideas in our fields of interest, developing knowledge about what works and what doesn't, and then communicating what we have learned to benefit others. This approach was eloquently summarized by George himself in his final annual report letter as chairman of the Wallace Reader's Digest Funds. 'From our beginnings as a national foundation to the present,' he wrote, 'it's been my privilege to be part of a voyage of discovery: to see if we could – through carefully targeted, strategic investments and objective measurement of the results of those investments – create genuine, large scale benefits befitting the bold and generous vision of our founders.'
In 2013, Wallace is still embarked on that journey. We are grateful to George for having set us upon it."
At its April 24th meeting, the Board of Directors of The Wallace Foundation awarded two grants—$750,000 to the National Boys & Girls Clubs of America and $250,000 to the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra—in memory of its former chairman. The grantee organizations were chosen by the Grune family.