Rich Yunkus: The Money Manager
When Rich Yunkus joined the RLC Foundation Board of Directors in February 1993, the organization only had $70,000 in its checking account. That’s a far cry from the more than $5.9 million the Foundation has currently in endowments. And Yunkus helped grow the Foundation into what it is today.
After securing some grants and seeking advice from a consulting firm, the Foundation started securing more funding.
“They basically taught us how to fundraise,” Yunkus said. “It just seemed like it started to take off from there.”
Yunkus has a large presence that has followed him throughout his career. The man known as the “Benton Bomber” was an All-American basketball player for Georgie Tech and still holds the college’s career scoring record. Afterward, he transitioned his career into financial services and worked for Edward Jones. His talents as a money manager transitioned into his role on the RLCF board. After some convincing from his fellow board members, Yunkus took the reins making investments for the Foundation to help grow its portfolio. The solid financial groundwork helped keep student scholarships stable, even through uncertain times like the Great Recession from 2007-2009.
“We never missed a scholarship. We paid every one,” he said.
“Rich Yunkus has done a masterful job in maintaining the investment accounts for the RLCF through upturns and downturns in the markets and economies,” Bornheimer said. “Because of Rich’s expertise, the RLCF has always had the funds to meet our obligations and take on many other projects on the Rend Lake College campus. Rich leaves the foundation in excellent condition.”
Yunkus emphasized that raising the money isn’t the accomplishment. It’s putting it to use. And the Foundation has never strayed from its goal of helping RLC and its students.
“The money raised is secondary to what we do with it. We don’t sit on it,” he said. “We use it for the benefit of the college. We’re constantly looking at how we can help. For little old Southern Illinois, I think it’s remarkable what we’ve been able to do.”
For all his work on the RLCF board, Yunkus has been the recipient of the Foundation’s Presidential Award twice in 2000 and 2015. In 2013 he was honored for 20 years of service on the Foundation board and he and his wife Donna have also received the Silver Seal donor award. He was a major contributor to the “Generations of Excellence” Capital Campaign and the RLCF Children’s Center. And he was active in the Institute for Learning in Retirement (ILR) as a teacher. Outside of RLC, he was a member of the Benton Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club and Elks Club.
Yunkus said he still plans on being active on the RLCF finance committee, where he can share 27 years of experience and wisdom as needed. He said the Foundation’s work has always been a team effort with every board member performing a necessary role. And that’s the advice he had to pass on to new members Wittenauer and Dauby.
“I think the best thing you can do at first is be a good listener,” he said. “Learn your role and how you can help.”