Leo Van Munching Jr., a beer importing company president and namesake of the building that houses the University of Maryland business school he graduated from, died Sunday in his home in Darien, Connecticut, at 89 years old.
“He was an extraordinary business person, very inspiring business person. He had relentless energy,” said Rudolph “Rudy” Lamone, a former dean of the business school. “I love Leo because he always inspired me do better than what we were already doing.”
Van Munching graduated from this university in 1950 and shortly after began to work at his father’s beer distribution franchise, Van Munching and Co., according to The New York Times. In his time with the company, which held the Heineken and Amstel Light beer franchises, he raised the profile of the Heineken brand and expanded its reach through marketing and advertising.
Whenever Van Munching was around, the positive atmosphere was “infectious,” Lamone said.
“He was a very, very special individual from many points of views, but especially for the creation of the Smith School’s home,” said Lamone, who served as dean from 1973 to 1992.
Van Munching donated $5 million toward the construction of the current Van Munching Hall, which ultimately replaced Tydings Hall as home of the business school in 1993. In 1999, he donated an additional $6 million to help finance renovation and expansion of the building, according to the business school’s website.
“He loved the idea of doing something that students would enjoy,” Lamone said. “We have a debt to pay for Leo’s love for the students.”
Business school Dean Alexander Triantis said Van Munching’s legacy will live on at this university.
“Van Munching Hall is a constant reminder of his generosity, but many people are not aware that Mr. Van Munching also supported student scholarships, career services and even the renovation of Rudy’s Cafe,” Triantis said. “His extraordinary support of this community has left a deep legacy at the Smith School.”
Van Munching is survived by his wife, sister, five sons, three daughters, 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held at St. Thomas More Church in Darien, Connecticut, on Feb. 20 at 10:30 a.m. Memorial donations can be made to Kolbe Cathedral High School in Bridgeport, Connecticut, attention Principal Jo-Anne Jakab.