When celebrities hit the big time with fame, money, and power, the natural belief is that they forget their roots. The allure of a small-town upbringing doesn't stand a chance against the glitter of Hollywood, so it seems.
David Gundlach, a filmmaker and self-made multimillionaire, has thrown that assumption out the window by donating his life's fortune to a small nonprofit in his hometown, WNDU reports.
Gundlach, 56, passed away last October after a sudden heart attack. Before he died, a nonprofit in his hometown of Elkhart, Ind. -- known as "ground zero of the recession -- learned that it had been listed as a beneficiary on his will, but weren't filled in on the details.
"None of us had a sense of how much, how large this gift would be," explained Pete McCown, president of the Elkhart County Community Foundation, the recipient of the endowment, to WNDU. "He simply told me, 'Kiddo, I've put the Community Foundation in my will.'"
Turns out it wasn't exactly chump change, as Gundlach bequeathed his entire personal fortune -- $125 million -- to the Elkhart County Community Foundation. The nonprofit aims to provide solutions to community issues through its grant program.
That's so much money even his mom, 94-year-old Marjorie Smith, was caught off guard. "I knew he was taking care of himself and not borrowing from me, but I had no idea he was that successful," Smith told Fox28. "I was as shocked as anybody else, truly."
According to the Herald Bulletin, the gift is expected to multiply the foundation's yearly charitable giving by a factor of 10, from $750,000 to $7,500,000. Gundlach did not attach any stipulations to the money, stating only, "Seems to me your organization is better qualified to make those decisions than I am."
The NY Daily News reports Gundlach made his fortune by starting Hastings Direct, an insurance company. After his initial financial success, he started a movie production company in Los Angeles which went on to produce "Get Low."