Estate planning: One Detroit Mercy donor’s story

July 12, 2021

A headshot photograph of Michael DundorfMichael Dundorf’s life has long been about giving.

At 80, he still tutors high school and middle school students in math for the Boys & Girls Club near his home north of Boston. He has donated time and treasure for a local community college and hospital. Through his estate plan, those three institutions, along with Detroit Mercy, will feel the results of his generosity for many years to come.

Dundorf ’65 was drawn to University of Detroit from New Jersey by the school’s Catholic values, its Chemical Engineering program and, importantly, its nationally known co-op program.

“That program essentially paid my way through college and gave me a lot of professional experience before I graduated,” he said.

He and his wife Caryl (Markowicz) ’63, who met in Shiple Hall one summer, moved to Indiana where Michael earned an MBA.

“The market was so interesting at that time,” Dundorf said. “I received 16 job offers all around the United States.”

The couple agreed on an offer from Proctor & Gamble, just outside of Boston, where he said his job was “to keep the soap coming out the other end of the factory.”

Then he worked for Polaroid when they were racing with Kodak to produce the first instantly developed photographs. Other positions along the way came in human resources departments where he saw the importance of hiring and properly compensating good engineers. Along the way, the couple had two children, Christyn and Joel.

Dundorf retired officially at the age of 55 to help care for Caryl, who was diagnosed with cancer. He began consulting because it allowed him to work around Caryl’s treatments. She was 60 when she died, and Dundorf continued consulting and began doing volunteer work.

A few years ago, Dundorf and a fellow University of Detroit classmate were talking about the complicated and emotional task of drawing up wills and estate planning.

“I had always thought my estate would just be split between my two children,” Dundorf said. “But he said to me I should not feel I had to give it all to my family. I could do something else with it. And that got me thinking.”

The next conversation he had was with his two children who told him they were happy with where they were in their own life.

“They told me, ‘Dad, you worked hard for it your whole life, give it to someplace that means something to you. We don’t need it.’ And so, I decided to give it away, because I wouldn’t need it, either,” he said.

Immediately, he said, Detroit Mercy came to mind and, because his friend had recently made a major donation to the University, Dundorf decided he would also contribute to the institution and a few other places that were important to him and his wife.

Working with a lawyer, he created a revocable trust, which gives him peace of mind because he retains control of the funds while he is alive. “If I needed it for medical care or something else, I could use this money,” he said.

He is also pleased that he was able to draw up his estate plans in such a way that none of the estate will go to taxes or legal fees: All his funds go where he wants them to go.

Dundorf originally thought of setting up a scholarship, but after discussing his plans with Detroit Mercy, he decided his substantial donation to Detroit Mercy would go to better use helping the University do major upgrades to the Chemistry program’s facilities.

“Detroit Mercy has a good Chemistry program,” he said. “And they need to keep equipment up to date, so it’s going to labs and analytical equipment in the Chemistry department.”

— By Ron Bernas. Follow Detroit Mercy on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Have a story idea? Let us know by submitting your idea.