Guy Gunzberg earned a BS from Harvard University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. But ask him about how his education influenced his adult life and his thoughts go immediately to the school he attended for 14 years.
“College was interesting,” he says. “Business school was fine. But The Park School was the most profound and important educational experience of my life.”
Gunzberg had many fine teachers at Park, he says. One that stands out is Dr. Raoul Hailpern. Gunzberg was the first Park student to take instruction from “Doc” Hailpern.
Freshly back from a semester as an exchange student in New Zealand, Gunzberg returned to Park in December of his senior year, only to learn that he had missed the first semester of trigonometry. How would he catch up?
Gunzberg’s math teacher, Jacky Knopp, said he had a cousin who had just relocated from Egypt and suggested that the man might tutor Gunzberg in trigonometry over the winter holiday recess. Knopp’s cousin was Dr. Raoul Hailpern.
“So Raoul and I worked at his dining room table. No books, he did it all from his head. It was an extraordinary experience. In seven hours of tutoring, I made up the entire course.”
Gunzberg and Hailpern developed a close friendship. Their time spent together inspired him to “pay it forward” as a tutor himself. He is in his tenth year of mentoring students at Evanston (Ill.) Township High School.
After graduating from Park, Gunzberg headed to Harvard to study physical sciences – a combination of math, physics, chemistry, astronomy, and geology. He also took his first computer course.
Gunzberg joined the Peace Corps after graduation in 1962. He traveled to Blantyre, Malawi, Africa, where he taught several subjects to students at a day school. Returning to the U.S., he attended Harvard Business School then joined the family business, M. Wile a manufacturing company that he helped build into what was once the largest producer of men’s clothing in the world.
While attending business school, Gunzberg had taken a course called “Introduction to Computer Graphics”.
“At the time, there was only one guy who knew anything about computer graphics and it was this guy at Harvard, Ivan Sutherland – he’s the father of computer graphics,” Gunzberg says. Gunzberg was hooked.
His computer prowess drove innovations at M. Wile.
“The whole world today – everywhere that apparel is made – computer graphics are used to lay out the patterns, and the automatic cloth-cutting machines cut the cloth using the output from the marking systems. That was my Master’s thesis and that’s what I brought to M. Wile.”
Gunzberg says it took a long time to convince others in the garment-manufacturing industry of the value of computers. “It took about 10 years for us to be able to commercialize this.”
Gunzberg found other innovative uses for technology.
“I had the first sales force traveling around the country with what were in effect laptop computers. They were taking orders and transmitting the orders back to Buffalo. This was in 1979. If you remember back, IBM didn’t introduce its PC until 1981. There were a lot of firsts that came out of our time in Buffalo.”
“I essentially computerized, not only my company but the corporation [Hartmarx] that bought it,” Gunzberg recalls. IBM paid him to be a traveling ambassador for their computer products.
In 1983, at Hartmarx’s request, Gunzberg relocated to Chicago, where he worked at the corporate office. “I was asked to bring the rest of the corporation up to where we were in Buffalo.”
By the mid-1980s, it became clear that the U.S. apparel industry was in trouble due to competition from China and other economic forces. The “handwriting was on the wall,” Gunzberg says. He and others from Hartmarx tried to save the industry through technological innovation.
“We made some progress, but it was not as fast as the industry was falling apart, unfortunately,” he recalls.
Gunzberg retired in the early 2000s. As he looks back on his career as a driver of innovation in manufacturing, his thoughts drift back to the school where he developed his love of learning.
“At Park, we were taught to think for ourselves,” he says. “And that’s not always what the world wants. I find that I think differently from a lot of the people who I’ve had to work. I think much more creatively. I ask the questions that most other people don’t even think about.”
Gunzberg's commitment will continue in perpetuity based on the planned gift he has to support the School.
"When I think back to my commitment to the 1912 Legacy Society, I believe that I made the decision well before our 50th reunion. For me, there has never been a question about how much Park has meant to me. When my wife Joan and I last met with our estate planner, we agreed to add some charitable bequests to our plans, and Park was an obvious choice for me. Perhaps it was the cumulative effect of prior reunions, communications from the school, and occasional get-togethers and emails among classmates. All these tended to focus the mind, so when the estate planning decision came along, it was a natural choice. For me, the 50th and Park’s 100th merely reinforced the decision."