How This Couple Fueled a New Hospital Tower

In many ways, Richard and Melanie Lundquist are a typical philanthropic couple. He earns the money as a Los Angeles real estate developer, and stays mostly out of the limelight. Meanwhile, she’s out front, taking the microphone at charity galas, wearing her heart on her sleeve, and cheerfully writing big checks to fund education and medical facilities. One reporter even noted, “Lundquist might as well have had pom poms the day we met… for lunch.”

But the couple’s philanthropy moved out of the realm of “ordinary” in December of 2013, when they made the fifth-largest gift to a health facility in the United States, ever: $50 million to Torrance Memorial Medical Center, to build a new patient tower, which will include 256 private rooms. The old tower, which is “seismically obsolete” (that’s a thing in Los Angeles county, apparently), needs replacing, and, well, Torrance is a city with an incredible need for more healthcare facilities. Five local hospitals have shuttered in the past few years, and as a result Torrance Memorial has expanded rapidly to meet the demand. When this sort of need meets with clear-eyed, morally motivated generosity, good things—and big, big gifts—happen.

The Lundquists have had a long-running relationship with Torrance Memorial, so they understood the challenges the hospital was facing, and the impact this expansion would have on the community. Melanie Lundquist has volunteered at the front desk for years, and according to the Daily Breeze, when the couple heard about the hospital’s plan to build a new tower, they stepped forward to co-chair the capital campaign right away. “They immediately stepped up and became co-chair people and have just shown tremendous leadership in that role along with being generous donors,” said Craig Leach, president and CEO of the hospital. “I’m grateful not only for their giving, but their leadership.”

The $50 million is by far the biggest gift Torrance Memorial has ever received, topping a previous gift of $13 million, also from the Lundquists, that was made in December 2007. Now, with the full $480 million project cost of the tower in hand, construction is slated for completion this summer. It is expected to open in November, 2014.