It was more than 4 and half years ago, at the hospital’s annual Holiday
Festival, that Torrance Memorial Medical Center announced the $11.5 million
donation from the Hunts in Manhattan Beach. In recognition of their generosity,
the Donald and Priscilla Hunt Cancer Institute and the Donald and Priscilla
Hunt Nuclear Medicine Center will be named and housed within the new Lundquist
Tower when it opens next year.
As a youth, each holiday season Donald Hunt would observe his father, a
Salvation Army major and minister, and his mother, a fundraiser for the
charitable organization, assisting those in need in his hometown of Detroit,
Michigan. Decades later, Donald and his wife, Priscilla, continued this
altruistic legacy with a notably larger gift.
For 93-year-old Donald, a child of the Great Depression, the success he
has achieved through tenacity and hard work has never been taken for granted.
Priscilla points out that even in recent years, he opted to drive a Toyota
Camry rather than a luxury car.
“Wealth doesn’t mean anything to him; he is a generous and
simple man. His priority has always been to put food on the table of his
employees,” she says. “This is why we connected.”
Priscilla and Donald crossed paths professionally more than a decade ago
when Donald hired Priscilla to assist him with managing properties and
marketing initiatives at his real estate company, Hunt Enterprises, Inc.
“He saw something in me,” she says. “He always said,
‘Priscilla is an asset, not a liability,’” she continues,
amused by his practicality.
Priscilla soon realized they shared similar work ethics and values in wanting
to help others. Priscilla’s father, a business man and politician
in her native Philippines, instilled in her to be generous, have good
judgment and work habits, and to strive to be successful from a young
age. She vividly remembers him telling her to always give to the poor
and to never eat candy in front of others unless she had some to share.
After graduating from the University of the East, she worked as an assistant
to the general manager of the Philippine Broadcasting Corporation. She
moved to the South Bay in 1953 to start a family and a few years later
began a professional career as a singer, recording artist and actress.
Her group, Priscilla Lee and the Filipino Rockets, recorded an album in
the late ‘50s and still gets radio play today. Priscilla also owned
and managed five successful Mexican restaurants in Los Angeles, promoted
concerts and served as a marketing director for her son’s company,
Both divorced with grown children, the two decided to join forces in marriage
12 years ago. After Don retired several years ago, Priscilla, now 83,
took the helm at Hunt Enterprises. Her mission is to preserve the legacy
of what her husband worked so hard to achieve. “He is a totally
self-made man,” Priscilla says.
From the age of 7, Donald began to show his strong work ethic by doing
every odd job he could—from delivering newspapers to washing dishes
to parking cars to selling ice—for extra money. He also played a
horn in the Salvation Army band.
After serving two years in the U.S. Army, he began selling residential
real estate in Michigan, earning top salesman honors. When he moved to
California he continued to buy, sell and develop property, eventually
acquiring more than 4,000 rentals, along with a plethora of shopping centers
and industrial and commercial properties.
Recent hospital stays made the Hunts realize that without good health,
hard work, success and wealth hold little meaning. Priscilla asked her
husband’s physician, Roberto Unguez, MD, an interventional cardiologist,
how they could give back in appreciation for her husband’s good
care at Torrance Memorial. He connected her with Laura Schenasi in the
Torrance Memorial Health Care Foundation.
“My grandchildren were born here; my family and husband were hospitalized
here,” she says. “The doctors really showed compassion toward
him and our family. You really get a warm and sincere feeling of trust.”
She continues, “The Lundquist Tower will be a really great addition
to the South Bay that will enrich the health and well-being for all walks
of life in this community for decades to come. It feels good to give.
We’re very proud to be a part of this endeavor.