Anna Gutekunst, loyal PHHP friend and supporter, passes away

Anna Gutekunst presents scholarship awards to Ashley-Marie Bodor and Kathryn Swanson at the college's 2012 convocation ceremony.
Anna Gutekunst presents scholarship awards to Ashley-Marie Bodor and Kathryn Swanson at the college’s 2012 convocation ceremony.

Anna Gutekunst, a longtime supporter of the College of Public Health and Health Professions and the University of Florida, and an active community volunteer, passed away Nov. 29. She was 91.

“With the passing of Anna Gutekunst, our college lost a beloved family member,” said Michael G. Perri, Ph.D., PHHP dean and the Robert G. Frank endowed professor of clinical and health psychology. “For more than 30 years, Anna was passionately dedicated to supporting our college and our students. She was a sharp, quick-witted, funny and kind person who will be greatly missed.”

Anna joined the Gainesville community in 1980 when her husband Richard Gutekunst was named dean of the College of Public Health and Health Professions, then the College of Health Related Professions. Their support of the college continued long after his retirement in 1994. They made generous donations to the university, funding PHHP scholarships and establishing the Edwin and Florence Fetterman Women’s Athletic Scholarship, named for Anna’s parents.

Anna was a member of First Lutheran Church of Gainesville, the Retired Officers Club, P.E.O. and UF Health Shands Hospital Auxiliary, where she accumulated 17,850 volunteer hours over more than 30 years of service.

Anna was a fixture at the hospital and was known and loved by everyone who met her, said friend and fellow auxiliary member Alicia Churchill.

“She was known for her smile,” Churchill said. “And she had a wonderful sense of humor. She really did. She didn’t take herself too seriously and that was one of her greatest assets.”

Among her auxiliary duties, Anna served as head of the group’s scholarship committee and she loved to present scholarship awards to the student recipients at various Health Science Center events, Churchill said.

“Anna was a serious supporter of students in our college and she made a point of staying in touch with several recipients of the Shands Auxiliary scholarship program,” said R. Paul Duncan, Ph.D., the Malcom and Christine Randall Professor in the department of health services research, management and policy. “The actual delivery of the awards, usually at a commencement or similar ceremony, was invariably the highlight of the event, with remarks that captured the importance of financial aid, but were always delivered with a unique kind of humor and humanity.”

A native of Allentown, Pa., Anna received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Bucknell University in 1944. Friends say some of her favorite memories were from the time the family lived in Cairo, Egypt in the early 1960s. There, she taught Latin and biology at Cairo American College, a K-12 international American school.

Anna is survived by her husband Richard; daughter Mary Jane Ellickson (Richard) of Marshville, N.C.; son Rick Gutekunst (Anne), of Phoenix, Ariz.; daughter Jo Anne Loughery (Herb) of Scotland, Conn.; four granddaughters and four great-granddaughters.

Services will be held Saturday, Dec. 6 at 6 p.m. at First Lutheran Church in Gainesville. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Bucknell University, 301 Market St., Suite 2, Lewisburg PA 17837; First Lutheran Church, 1801 NW 5th Ave., Gainesville FL 32603; P.E.O. Foundation, 3700 Grand Ave., Des Moines IA 50312-2899; or Volunteer Services Department, Attn: Shands Hospital Auxiliary, P.O. Box 100351, Gainesville FL 32610.