With great sadness for the loss but joy for his life and accomplishments, we share with our readers today the word of the passing of long-time FEE donor Edwin A. “Ned” Gallun of Mayville, Wisconsin. He died this past Wednesday (December 14) at the age of 85 and is survived by his wife Elfriede (“Elfie”); his son Martin and wife Angela; his daughters Lisa and Amanda and their spouses; and five grandchildren.
Considering all of his contributions to the Foundation for Economic Education (he never missed a year of giving in 40 years), he holds the record as FEE’s largest lifetime donor. Just a year ago this month, he surprised us with a special Christmas gift of $250,000. That unbudgeted grant helped us serve hundreds of students we might not have otherwise reached this past year.
Ned was born in Milwaukee, where he attended Country Day school and spent summers on nearby Pine Lake. He was a graduate of St. Mark’s Boarding School and a proud graduate of Yale University’s Class of 1953. Upon graduation from Yale, he served in the Army and was stationed in Germany, where he met Elfie, the love of his life. Elfie had escaped from communist East Germany, so she knew the value of freedom and the pain of its absence and like Ned, became a passionate advocate for it. She once wrote a letter about her experience to President Ronald Reagan, prompting a reply the couple always cherished (PDF scan here).
Over the years, I had the pleasure of meeting and conversing with both Ned and Elfie on several occasions. Most recently, my FEE colleague Justin Streiff and I spent a couple hours with Ned in October. He gave us a tour of the beautiful new headquarters building for the company he led for decades, Metalcraft of Mayville.
Prior to the tour, I asked him to tell us again about his relationship with FEE’s founder, Leonard E. Read. They enjoyed a deep, personal friendship for many years and Ned loved to tell the story of the time, early in some difficult years in the growth of Metalcraft, when Leonard wrote him a letter in which he expressed confidence in Ned and the company’s future. “He really touched me,” he said, “and I’ll never forget the boost I got from Leonard taking the time to tell me he was sure I would succeed.”
I too was always impressed with Ned Gallun. A perfect gentleman of immense integrity, a Christian of great faith, an entrepreneur of enviable talent, and a lover of family, liberty and good people, Ned was the quintessence of the American Dream. I dedicated my recent book, “Real Heroes: Inspiring True Stories of Courage, Character, and Conviction,” to two couples: Ron and Jenny Manners of Perth, Australia; and Ned and Elfie Gallun of Mayville, Wisconsin. I also cited Ned in a Commencement Address this past May at Brookfield Academy in Brookfield, Wisconsin, not far from where he will be buried on December 21, 2016.
In 1973, Ned bought a little company in Wisconsin, changed its name to Metalcraft of Mayville, and built it into a world-class manufacturer with over 800 employees and two locations. It manufactures a wide range of products for many industries including construction, agriculture, military, commercial, industrial, forestry, mining and SCAG outdoor power equipment, making the very best commercial lawn mowers and lawn maintenance equipment money can buy. Perhaps somewhere in America, there might be someone who would say, “You didn’t build that, Ned.” But I know that he did, and countless others would so gratefully attest.
No thanks, no matter how heartfelt, can ever suffice to express the appreciation for Ned Gallun’s life that all of us feel at FEE. We celebrate his memory as we express our deepest condolences to his beloved family and team members at Metalcraft.