Campus: Sonoma State -- October 4, 2006

G.K. Hardt Estate Donates $1.3 Million toward Green Music Center at SSU

The Donald and Maureen Green Music Center reached a milestone toward completion thanks to a gift of $1.3 million from the estate of long-time Sonoma County resident G.K. Hardt.

"This generous gift allowed us to have sufficient funds to guarantee full funding for the construction of the second phase of the project," said Ruben Armiņana, SSU president.

Hardt passed away in June 2004. Gladys Bates, Hardt's assistant of 45 years, and the Exchange Bank serve as trustees for the estate and made the decision to help support the Green Music Center and Sonoma State University.

"G.K. wanted his good fortune to benefit people in the community where he raised his family and enjoyed a prosperous and fulfilling life," said Bates. "He had a love for opera and classical music and was always listening to music. I'm sure he would be pleased to be providing an important boost to the building of this world-class music hall." Bates herself is an advocate of the arts and serves as a volunteer usher at Santa Rosa Symphony concerts.

"This extraordinarily generous gift arrives at a perfect time," said Dan Lanahan, Chairman of Lanahan & Reilley LLP and co-chair of the Green Music Center Capital Campaign.

"We now move on to completion of the Green Music Center." Hardt was born in 1918 in East Prussia. His family immigrated to the United States in 1927. Settling in Santa Rosa, he graduated from Santa Rosa High School in 1936 and then served in the U.S. Army during WW II.

His career began in 1937 at 19 years old when he worked as a filling station attendant at a Signal Oil service station across from Santa Rosa High School. Always the entrepreneur and never one to miss an opportunity, he traded his own car for two others and his career as an auto dealer was underway.

The year 1937, and the Depression, brought less than $20 for a used car, but he persevered and the business grew beyond his expectations. His G.K. Hardt agency was part of Santa Rosa's original auto row. His success has been attributed to his sense of humor and his genuine desire to help others.

He resided in Sonoma County for almost 75 years until he died of heart failure in 2004. He retired from the automobile business in 1973 but remained very active in real estate over the balance of his life.

While an automobile dealer over most of his working life, Mr. Hardt had many interests beyond his family and automobiles. Those included children, agriculture, horses, the arts, and, it seems, people generally down on their luck. Always known for his warmth and his love of a good laugh, he found himself to be quite successful in any of the activities to which he became involved.

While the construction budget for the Donald and Maureen Green Music Center is signed for $88 million with a green light to proceed, there is still $22 million to raise toward the capital project and to pay down a public construction bond secured by private guarantors. The Center includes a world class concert hall that seats 1,400, a recital hall for 300, an music/faculty office building, and an executive center. Completion date is in fall 2008.

Almost $43 million has been received in cash, pledges and interim financing from donors including the initial gift of $10 million from Donald Green and his wife Maureen as well as approximately $45 million from the California State University.

Linda Burille, Trust Officer, Exchange Bank, (707) 524-3142
Dan Lanahan, Lanahan & Reilley LLP, (707) 524-4200

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