Written by Melissa Bean Sterzick | Photographed by Philicia Endelman
Kurt and Timme Gunderlock make tangible changes in the world. They build and design beautiful homes, created a tight-knit family, cultivated a wide circle of friends and nurture the causes meaningful to them. Their life together is all about doing, working, building and making everything they touch better.
It’s hard to say which of the Gunderlocks is more committed to Torrance Memorial Medical Center, since they work together to support the hospital. Kurt says he steps up for anything important to his wife; Timme says Kurt promotes the hospital whenever he has a chance but gives her all the credit.
Building a Life Together
Kurt and Timme are industrious people. They are semiretired, but neither can turn down a job. Timme grew up in Manhattan Beach and received her bachelor’s degree in art history from California State University, Long Beach. She later earned two master’s degrees from UCLA—one in art history and the other in interior design.
In 1978, a real estate developer hired her to create interior design concepts for a large tract of homes, and she established her company, Associated Design Services, which later became Timme G. Designs. Her work as a designer led her to an affiliation with Gunderlock Construction in 1982.
“It’s easy to work. People will say to me, ‘How do you keep it all straight?’ I don’t know, I just do it. Women are multidimensional. We can throw our kids in the car, be going to a soccer game and be writing a proposal while we wait,” Timme says. “I think I’m retired, but if you say so to my girlfriends, they laugh and say, ‘Oh yeah, Timme’s retired, but she’s working on three houses.’”
Kurt, a former Marine, is a general contractor and head of Gunderlock Construction. During his career he’s built more than 100 custom homes, plus multiunit projects, commercial buildings and countless remodels of all sizes. His current retirement schedule includes building a home for his son, who lives in Anaheim. He’s also building a 12,000-square-foot custom home for a client, located on the last open parcel in Rolling Hills Estates.
Kurt and Timme married in 1989, and both already had a son and a daughter. Timme says they were like “The Brady Bunch.” Their blended family is based in Southern California and now includes eight grandchildren, who produce enormous amounts of joy and a heavy schedule of cherished events.
The Gunderlocks travel frequently. Timme reads two books a month. Kurt does Pilates. Golf is a regular activity for the couple, and they are active members of Rolling Hills Country Club. Kurt was on the club’s building committee for many years, consulting on the construction phases there including the grounds and clubhouse.
Giving to their Family, Friends and Community
Timme had reason to feel drawn to becoming a member of Torrance Memorial Ambassadors, an annual giving support group. She gave birth to her son there in 1978 and was impressed by the care she received. In 2014, Timme was diagnosed with breast cancer and treated at Torrance Memorial. It was a heartbreaking experience because she had watched her mother and aunt go through the disease, and she lost her sister Terre to breast cancer in 1988.
“The treatment I received at Torrance Memorial was amazing. My sister would be alive today, had she received the great treatments available now. My doctor, Dr. Cynthia Williams, stayed with me when I had my surgery and helped me be prepared for how it would go. This is the personalized, compassionate care you get from being part of Torrance Memorial,” she says.
The same year she was treated for breast cancer, a friend invited Timme to a Torrance Memorial Ambassadors luncheon. She was inspired by the positive energy she felt among its members. She saw the importance of offering financial support to crucial service lines for the hospital including neurology, orthopedics, and spine, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. Besides the enthusiastic camaraderie, Timme could see the group’s members understood the value of supporting the vital programs patients need.
“I always say you need to be involved in your community. Being involved in the hospital is hugely important because everyone who lives here benefits from having a great hospital like Torrance Memorial,” she says.
Timme continues to point her laser focus toward the hospital because her efforts are rewarded in a dozen ways, including her friendships, her own health and her desire to serve the community. She says social events aren’t Kurt’s natural habitat, but once he’s there, he’s the hospital’s biggest advocate.
Kurt has a history of using his time for the benefit of others including years of coaching youth baseball, serving as a Marine, teaching science and coaching at Aviation and Mira Costa high schools, and building homes as a volunteer in Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia and Turkey.
“He’s a quiet guy, a man of few words, but when he speaks, everybody listens because he’s smart and really knowledgeable,” Timme says.
Since 1980, Kurt has spent most of his life constructing buildings—committing his labor to providing the most beautiful and useful homes and businesses for his clients. His contributions to the hospital have a similar form. He enjoys watching buildings go up on the hospital campus. The new emergency department is the next project he’s excited to see take shape.
“When we give donations to the hospital, we know it’s going directly to help someone. We know what we’ve given is going directly to the good,” Kurt says.
Torrance Memorial benefits equally from the abilities and dedication of both members of this steadfast partnership. Kurt and Timme are people of action and purpose who devote their time and means to keeping their loved ones close, their friendships strong and their community healthy. Their generosity toward each other is the foundation for their service to the hospital and to the world around them.