Scholarship Campaign Reaches Milestone Thanks to Two Major Gifts from SAC Alums
(Santa Ana, CA)—At its recent meeting, the Santa Ana College (SAC) Foundation Board of Directors celebrated raising $1 million for its Centennial Scholarship Campaign. The campaign commemorates the college’s 100th anniversary in 2015 by building a new scholarship endowment that increases the overall support for scholarships for deserving, high-need students. When the campaign was launched in January 2013, the SAC Foundation pledged to match all Centennial Scholarship Campaign gifts of $25,000 and above up to the first $1 million of donations.
“We are very grateful that so many community members have stepped up to support our students,” said Ken Purcell, president of the SAC Foundation Board of Directors. “The generosity of our donors will positively impact Santa Ana College students’ lives for the next 100 years and beyond.”
Two major gifts---$100,000 from Bruce and Lisa Gelker followed by $50,000 from Steven Fainbarg--- pushed the Centennial Scholarship Campaign over the $1 million mark. With these gifts, the $1 million in matching funds from the SAC Foundation has been exhausted. To date, the Centennial Scholarship Campaign has raised over $1.16 million, creating 108 new annual scholarships for local students. With the SAC Foundation’s matching gift, the total campaign to date is $2.16 million.
“With these two generous gifts, we have reached the first milestone of the Santa Ana College Centennial Scholarship Campaign and surpassed our initial goal of creating 100 new annual student scholarships,” said Christina Romero, executive director of the SAC Foundation. “In our centennial year 2015, we will continue to grow our scholarship endowment to help ensure that economics are not an obstacle to students who dream of a college education.”
Ninety-one-year-old Bruce Gelker, who now splits his time between Long Beach and Catalina Island, attended Santa Ana College in 1941 and 1942. Inducted into the SAC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006, he played football helping the Dons compile a record of 20-1 in two seasons while winning a national title in 1942. He was honored on the All-Eastern Division Junior College Football Team and the all-Southern California Football Team as tackle. Bruce also played baseball and basketball while at SAC. While playing first base for the Dons baseball team, he was offered a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals.
“I have fond memories of Santa Ana College,” said Bruce. “The classes I attended were meaningful and I still reflect on the teachers. We had a spirit at Santa Ana that was unique and I enjoyed every minute of it. Those years were really special.”
Bruce transferred to the University of Southern California (USC) on a football/baseball scholarship. During his time at USC, he played left tackle on the 1944 Rose Bowl team and first base on Rod Dedeaux’s baseball team. While at USC, Bruce also trained in the United States Marine Corps (USMC) V-12 Program for one year before being called for active duty in 1944. He played on the Officer Candidate All-Star Football team and the championship baseball team. He was the first coach of the USMC Division Basketball team in the Pacific Ocean area championship tournament in Shanghai, China.
After World War II, Bruce went into the hospitality industry. In 1964, he founded the Saddleback Inn in Santa Ana which soon became the place to stay and be seen in Orange County. The hotel hosted many celebrities from Ronald Reagan to Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, motor sport legend Dan Gurney, the Washington Redskins football team, and others. In addition to the Santa Ana Saddleback Inn and restaurant, he owned hotels in Laguna Beach, Norwalk, Lake Arrowhead, and Phoenix. Each hotel included an art gallery where featured artists’ works were exhibited and sold.
Bruce is also known for being co-organizer and the first president of the Orange County Sports Celebrities (now called Orange County Youth Sports Foundation). At 25, he became the youngest president of the Orange Rotary Club and was honored with the 1988 Good Guy Award from the Orange County Sports Hall of Fame.
“Everything that happened to me at Santa Ana College was a plus,” said Bruce. “From football to the speech teacher I still remember, it all contributed greatly to the success I enjoyed in the business world.”
According to his wife Lisa, she and Bruce decided together that they wanted to do something meaningful for the community. “Because Bruce has such fond memories of Santa Ana College, we decided we wanted to provide $100,000 to fund scholarships for students, especially for football players, who can’t afford to go to college on their own. Making this gift has brought us great joy,” said Lisa.
Also instrumental in pushing the Centennial Scholarship Campaign to the $1 million mark was a $50,000 gift from Corona del Mar resident Steven Fainbarg. Steven is the son of Allan and Sandy Fainbarg, who made a $450,000 donation to the campaign in July 2013. Steven, who attended SAC in 1976, works as property manager at S&A Properties. Steven’s sister Nancy Chase also made a $25,000 gift to the campaign.
The Centennial Scholarship Campaign, “Supporting Access and Completion for the Next 100 Years,” is a three-year “100 for the 100th” fundraising drive to support the goal of a college degree in every home. The foundation continues to seek gifts at various levels, including:
- Major gifts of $100,000 or more
- Endowed gifts of $25,000 or more
- Invested gifts of $10,000 or more
- Annual gifts of $1,000 or more
- General Centennial Fund gifts at any level
“The Centennial Scholarship Campaign will transform the student experience and lend critical support to our mission of investing in student success and community prosperity,” said Erlinda J. Martinez, SAC president. “These newly endowed scholarships are a fitting way to celebrate our college’s past and plan for its boundless future.”
For more information about the Centennial Scholarship Campaign, please contact the SAC Foundation at (714) 564-6091 or
About the Santa Ana College Foundation
The Santa Ana College Foundation is committed to ensuring that no student is denied educational opportunities due to financial constraints. The foundation strives to maintain, expand and enhance the educational opportunities at Santa Ana College and to link community organizations, businesses, funding sources, alumni and staff preserving “A History of Success, A Future of Promise.”
About Santa Ana College
Santa Ana College (SAC), which will turn 100 years old in 2015, serves about 18,000 students each semester at its main campus in Santa Ana. The college prepares students for transfer to four-year institutions, provides invaluable workforce training, and customized training for business and industry. In addition, another 13,000 students are served through the college’s School of Continuing Education located at Centennial Education Center. Ranked as one of the nation’s top two-year colleges awarding associate degrees to Latino and Asian students, the college is also recognized throughout the state for its comprehensive workforce training programs for nurses, firefighters, law enforcement and other medical personnel. SAC is one of two comprehensive colleges under the auspices of the Rancho Santiago Community College District. Visit
www.sac.edu to learn more.
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