Elaine and Hunter Keck
Hunter is a Virginia native who, during tough economic times brought on by the Great Depression, was fortunate enough to attend the University of Richmond under an academic scholarship. He later served in World War II, completing a tour of duty that enabled him to meet British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and took him to Iwo Jima and points beyond before his discharge as a lieutenant commander.
Shortly after the war, Hunter met his first wife, Betty, with whom he shared his life for 44 years - until her death in 1989. Over the years the couple had one daughter, Amy, and Hunter established a successful business, Photo Template Corp. He also helped establish Lusk Metals and Bralco Metals. Then, in 1990, he met his future bride, Elaine. Born in Winnipeg, Canada, Elaine taught school before moving to Minneapolis during World War II . She married a flyer, raised four children of her own, and like Hunter was widowed many years later. She moved to California during the 1970s, setting her on a course to meet Hunter through a mutual friend and marry him the following year.
Sharing their Desire to Give
Today, the two reside in Newport Beach, California, where their greatest joys are each other, their large family and giving, a thread they have shared since before they met. They recently celebrated their life-long commitment to philanthropy by providing a generous gift to Hoag Hospital in support of cancer care and nursing.
Hunter recalls feeling the need to someday give back while still a student at the University of Richmond. “When I was in college I knew I’d someday like to give back to the school,” he said. In fact, he has given back well beyond the university’s borders. In addition to establishing a scholarship at his alma mater, he created the Hunter B. Keck Presidential Scholarship at Pepperdine University, where his grandchildren attended, and has given frequently to Hoag.
Elaine’s philanthropy was instilled by her father. “He was very clear that he believed we should give back to the community,” she said. “I never forgot that.” During her life time Elaine has given back in a number of important ways. She served on Orange County’s Opera Pacific board of directors, the Abbott Northwestern and Children’s Hospital (in Minneapolis, Minnesota) board of trustees, and for many years has been a generous supporter of Hoag.
“When I moved to California I simply decided I wanted to start giving to Hoag,” said Elaine, who along with her husband is an active member of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach. The couple also supports the Orange County Community Foundation. “I’ve always liked to give to hospitals - I try to give to organizations that really help people in need,” Elaine said. Hunter began supporting Hoag in 1983, and he and Elaine have given to the hospital in many different ways.
Either individually or together, they have supported Hoag as long time members of the 552 Club, a community-based group of individual volunteers and donors dedicated to promoting as well as financially supporting the hospital. They also helped finance the Marion Knott Nursing Education Center and the Sue and Bill Gross Women’s Pavilion, and contributed in the name of Parminder Dhaliwal, M.D. after he treated Elaine for a ruptured gall bladder.
Other contributions have been “undesignated” - for use as Hoag sees the need.
Cancer Comes Knocking
Were it not for the outstanding medical care that Hunter received after developing lung cancer at age 89, he might not have been around to discuss the couple’s most recent gift.
I had a cough, and the chest X-Ray came back clear,” he said. “I continued coughing, and a CT scan showed two spots on the upper left lobe. They turned out to be cancerous.”
A portion of the lobe was removed in 2006, however two days later Hunter developed pneumonia. His health remained touch and go for the next month. Thanks to a medical team that included his internist, Richard C. Harano, M.D.; his thoracic surgeon, Colin Joyo, M.D. and his pulmonologist, Dennis Novak, M.D.; Hunter began to improve and was discharged to a rehabilitation center, then sent home.
Today, at 91, he has recovered sufficiently to return to the golf course with Elaine several days each week. “I’ve always thought a lot of Hoag, but my impression of the hospital was even higher after my cancer treatment,” Hunter said.
Passing on a Legacy of Giving
As Hunter’s and Elaine’s parents did for them, the couple are passing along to their own children and grandchildren that same love for helping others. Thanks to their generosity, many who pass through Hoag will have an opportunity to enjoy their own lives longer than they otherwise might have. That’s the hope of Elaine and Hunter Keck. “We’ve been blessed,” Hunter said. “ If we can bless others through what we’ve been given, then I believe that’s what we ought to be doing. There’s no finer vehicle through which to accomplish that than the Hoag Hospital Foundation.”