Wayne Kuni believes in donating excess earnings to charitable causes. He explained how he arrived at his philosophy to Staff Reporter Donna Harris.
Those who know you say that you have lived modestly for a person of great wealth and that you have always given generously to charities. When did you ponder the question "How much is enough?"
When I found out I had cancer a little over two years ago. We are so busy working and creating wealth. It isn't until the Grim Reaper puts his hand out that you really begin to go through the process. Money starts out as a necessity. You are paying for a college education or food for the kids. Once you get beyond that, you can only take so many vacations. You can only eat so many steaks. You can only buy so many Italian suits. After that, money becomes the measure of your success. And it's really a poor measurement of success. The difference between $1 or $1 million or $10 million is just zeros. The fundamental reasons you do things don't change just because there are more zeros.
Why is it so important to ask how much is enough?
Things don't make you happy; they are just things. Somebody told me once to never love anything that can't love you back. It is a saying I always remember.
What individuals contributed most to your value system?
There are two people.
William (Bill) Harvey III, my boss at Motors Holding, had as much effect as anyone could on forming my values and showing me the way. If he was alive today, he would have been the kind of person you would want as president of General Motors. He had all the right instincts and all the right thoughts, but he was outspoken. In those days, you were not outspoken.
My father-in-law, Lewis Van Arman, also had a profound effect on me. He was a fine individual. He was controller of Chevrolet Motor Car Division from 1948 to 1955. He was an honest, good person in every way.
For him, there was only one way to do things.