From Jon Abbott
Dear WGBH colleagues,
It is with great sadness that we share the terrible news that our colleague Valerie Gunderson has passed away. It came as a dreadful shock when we learned of her death on Saturday. It’s our understanding that she died in her sleep. She left us far too soon at the age of 59.
Valerie was a key member of the ’GBH family for more than 25 years—for the last many years as Director of Budget Operations. All those who worked with her know what a special person she was. She was passionate about WGBH and took enormous pride in working here. Her belief in ’GBH’s impact and accomplishments came through in everything she did. She built a wide network of friends and admirers at every level and in every ’GBH department. She was thoughtful, witty, whip smart (as she proved when her team shared the trophy just weeks ago at the WGBH spelling bee) and, colleagues recall, always there with a comforting shoulder. She was known for wearing a shade of purple every day. To speak of her in the past tense is simply surreal.
Valerie played a critical role in stewarding our annual budget planning and forecasting, monitoring all budgets and ably assuring that the Foundation finished every fiscal year on target. We relied on her leadership in helping guide and track our special R&D investments on new projects, supporting innovation with our editorial teams.
Valerie came to WGBH after a tour of what she called “off-off-off-Broadway” acting, while also working for Columbia Pictures. Her stories from that experience were legendary and hilarious. She left the stage and New York to focus on a public service MBA at BU with the specific goal of landing a job at WGBH. In fact, she wrote her Master’s thesis on WGBH and its impact on the state and the country. She called ’GBH her dream destination and knew it was the place for her. And it was. Valerie started off in the Budget Office, then served as Business Manager for the launch of The World until returning to head up the Budget team.
Valerie loved France and traveled there often with her husband Ted. They enjoyed exploring Beaune and had a large community of friends there. She was a very proud Hoosier, growing up in Fort Wayne, attending Indiana University in Bloomington, and returning frequently to visit family and friends. She and her husband made their home in Harwich, but Valerie kept an apartment in Brighton to avoid the daily commute. She volunteered her time and financial skills with the Brighton Main Streets program.
In times like these, our sense of community is heightened as together we try to make sense of the tremendous loss of someone so vibrant, in the prime of her life. Valerie’s family is planning a celebration of her life on the Cape, and we’re planning a gathering here at ’GBH where we can share our remembrances; QuickNooz will advise when that’s been scheduled. Condolences may be sent to Valerie’s husband (Ted Osiecki, 2 Locust Grove Rd, Harwich, MA 02645) and, in lieu of flowers, her family welcomes donations to her favorite charities: Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston (mspca.org) or HopeHealth Hospice in Cape Cod (hopehealthco.org).
We can honor Valerie by showing special kindness to each other, and especially to her closest associates, as we grapple with this sudden and untimely loss.
In shared sadness,
Jon, Ben, and Vinay
Jon Abbott, WGBH CEO and President
Ben Godley, COO and Executive Vice President
Vinay Mehra, Chief Financial Officer