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Retired teacher donates $62,000 to AACA

One woman’s donations will help get more children into the Austin ArtWorks Center.

The Austin Area Commission for the Arts received two big gifts earlier in April from Ruth Wunderlich — one for $10,000 to be directed to the ArtWorks Center Education Program, and the other for $52,000 to be directed to Paramount Theatre operations.

AACA Executive Director Jennie Knoebel said the gifts will help bring kids to the ArtWorks Center.

“She donated $10,000 to us to help support kid’s classes at the ArtWorks Center, so we’re going to be able to offer classes at a much more discounted rate,” she said.

Some of the classes, regularly $20, will be offered for $5 to children. Knoebel explained Wunderlich is passionate about the arts and hoped more children would get the opportunity to engage in art.

The $52,000 will go toward operating costs and basic needs for the Historic Paramount Theatre.

“Things like the utilities bills and insurance and maintenance of the space,” she said. “Some of the things that cost a lot of money to keep us going.”

“It’s a wonderful gift to allow us to focus on our programming,” she added.

AACA administrators were not able to speak with Wunderlich directly.

They did get in touch with Colleen Weimer, who has been friends with the Wunderlich family for more than 40 years, but cites 1992 as the year she first got to know Wunderlich. Weimer, who has assumed the role of caretaker, spoke about Wunderlich’s recent donations.

Wunderlich was born and raised in Austin and still lives here. One of three sisters, she graduated from Austin High School in 1944. As the last surviving member of her family, she still owns the same home she grew up in. She will be 91 in October.

Wunderlich worked as a teacher of 42 years. Weimer cited Wunderlich’s experience with school fundraisers — often required of students in order to participate in extracurricular activities and limiting some students’ ability to get involved with what they love — as a primary reason behind the gift.

“It is wonderful, it’s such an amazing gift,” Knoebel said. “It’s just one less piece to stress out about and really focus on the arts and doing what we can to provide artistic opportunities to the community.”

Knoebel said Wunderlich has “been a good past supporter of our organization as well.”