UT Tyler
Muntz Library Outside Shot

Focus on Benefactors

Through the Generations

Genecov, Muntz and Darryl Families Nurture UT Tyler

Part I

Tyler philanthropists Aleck and Hilda Genecov celebrated their baby girl’s first breath of life decades ago, and in subsequent years instilled in her a lasting devotion to community.

Their child grew up to become the prominent woman known as Maurine Muntz, a quiet unassuming soul who faithfully carried forward her family’s tradition, breathing love and life into the people and institutions of Tyler she adored. She had begun passing the torch to her family’s next generation when she died in April.

For more than 30 years, Maurine Muntz helped The University of Texas at Tyler grow into a world-class campus, discreetly nurturing it with her personal time and money while repeatedly declining due credit.

“Mrs. Muntz was a major supporter from the beginning of UT Tyler, working closely with former President George Hamm in being part of the original group who wanted to make this university really special,” UT Tyler President Dr. Rodney Mabry said.

Joy Turns Duncan, who served as the university’s director of advancement in the 1980s and 1990s, concurred: “She was a pioneer for the university. She was insightful and even visionary in realizing what the university could mean to the community. … Maurine’s support through the years has provided a solid foundation for UT Tyler to emerge as the first-class university that it is today. She was one of those original champions who saw what UT Tyler could be.”

UT Tyler has benefited immensely from the generosity of Maurine Muntz and her family. Their tradition of giving to higher education started with her parents, Aleck and Hilda Genecov, and has continued through the years with significant gifts from the A.S. Genecov Foundation, which the couple founded in 1955, and from Maurine Muntz’s daughter and son-in-law, Terry and Dennis Darryl.

First Patriot of the Year

Maurine Muntz was the university’s first Patriot of the Year—an annual award to recognize the lasting contributions of individuals and organizations that advance the university and community.

Her own major philanthropic support of the university began in 1982, when she gave $1.5 million to honor the memory of her husband, Robert Muntz, and the university’s newly built library was named after him.

“This was a very refined, scholarly and distinguished symbol to celebrate his life—a life that was well lived and very much involved in the community,” Duncan said.

Robert Muntz was a chemist from Ohio who met Maurine Muntz when he came to the Tyler region during World War II for army training at Camp Fannin. After Robert returned from the war, the couple married and decided to settle in Tyler, where he went to work as president of BM&R Interest—the real estate construction side of her father’s business.

As Dennis Darryl recalled, “Bob was not socially or politically involved. He was busy in the family business and always said, ‘So goes the business so goes our philanthropic endeavors,’ because if we did well, so did the community.”

Robert Muntz was also a horticulturalist and orchid grower. He and Maurine Muntz grew orchids and were so avid about creating new varieties of them that several were named after them, Dennis Darryl said.

Robert Muntz, who died in 1978, also was an art collector and inquisitive person who loved books and libraries.

“That’s part of the reason that Mrs. Muntz wanted to do the donation to the library,” Dennis Darryl said. “We would go traveling, and the first thing he would do is hit a bookstore or a library on a campus, and he would just buy tons of books on whatever he was interested in at the time—snuff bottles, orchids, mechanical engineering, etc. And his library at the house reflected those interests.”

In 2008, the library grounds transformed with another gift from the family – the Muntz Library Gardens.

Jeanne Standley, executive director of the library, had expressed interest in the building having a natural, peaceful place outdoors for students and others to read and work. The Muntz and Darryl families responded by creating a tranquil setting complete with electrical outlets, Wi-Fi access, and a stream of water cascading under a bridge and stretching diagonally across the front of the library.

“What we ended up with is just gorgeous,” Standley said. “It’s one of the prettiest places on our campus. Students can step outside of the library and sit at tables by this wonderful brook. It’s like being in the woods of Colorado.”

Muntz Gardens Plaque

Sharing the Fruits of Success

Aleck Genecov, Maurine Muntz’s father, was an oil producer, farmer, rancher and real estate investor whose initial success came during the East Texas oil boom of the late 1930s and early 1940s. His half of the Roosth & Genecov Production Co. matured into The Genecov Group. The 80-year-old, family-owned, Tyler-based company focuses on oil and gas and commercial real estate investments.

In the 1940s, Evelyn Muntz came to know the family well and ultimately became a part of it. She attended college with Maurine Muntz at the University of Texas at Austin, married Robert Muntz’s brother, Dr. Hascall Muntz, whom she met at the couple’s wedding, and later served as associate director of development at UT Tyler in the 1980s and 1990s.

“Maurine’s whole family was very charitable, generous and compassionate, and did a lot for the community,” she said.

The Genecovs donated to the city’s chamber of commerce, Tyler Junior College and to the university, Evelyn Muntz said, noting, “They loved the community, and Maurine has been the same way.”

She and other people describe Maurine Muntz as a quiet lady who was modest and reserved but sociable and warm.

“She recognized the importance of reading, learning and the arts, and in her quiet graceful way was supportive and made things possible,” Standley said.

Maurine Muntz also appreciated a diversity of people, Standley said: “She had the same graciousness to anyone, regardless of their station in life.”

Her love of people shined through in her philanthropy.

“Maurine always stepped up and was there at the most opportune times to support the university,” Duncan said.

Maurine Muntz was one of 10 people recognized as Patriots on the UT Tyler R. Don Cowan Fine and Performing Arts Center’s “Honors Wall” for helping fund the construction of the building.

“The venue has made such a difference to the culture of Tyler and the region. We can credit our success to all of these patrons on our Honors Wall, including Maurine Muntz. They made it happen,” said Susan Thomae-Morphew, executive director of the Cowan Center.

Maurine Muntz also supported the arts at UT Tyler and was an active member of its Friends of the Arts organization. Dr. Gary Hatcher, the B.J. and Dub Riter Professor of Art, met her about 15 years ago at one of the group’s meetings, where he spoke about the need for a new fine arts complex. He was chairman of the Department of Art and Art History at the time. She soon volunteered to serve on the planning committee for the new building and was also among the first to give monetarily to the project, he said.

“That idea of someone supporting it from the community was very important to getting it done, because it ultimately brought other people in from the community,” Hatcher said.

Maurine Muntz backed the arts on campus, not only financially, but by attending events, frequenting the university’s art facilities, visiting Hatcher’s own art studio and otherwise being involved, he said. He recalled times when she even invited groups of art students to her home to see her vast collection of snuff bottles from around the world.

She and her children also have given money to provide art and other scholarships at UT Tyler.

In addition to involvement in the arts, Maurine Muntz was an active member of the university’s Development Board, a member of the UT Tyler President’s Associates, and an attendee of many campus events, groundbreakings and grand openings as the university expanded.

“Mrs. Muntz and her family have always supported the educational mission of the university,” Mabry said. “That they have stayed with the university and understand the miles we have yet to travel—it means so much.”

See Part II: The Next Generation

UT Tyler