It’s not unusual to see his red pickup truck parked in front of the Toner Student Center on any given day. He is likely making a regular visit to campus to have lunch with university president, Brother William Mann, discussing agenda items for the Board of Trustees, checking in on a facilities project underway, or visiting with students.
As an alumnus, generous benefactor, 17-year member and current chair of the Board of Trustees, Michael Gostomski ’62 is an active and instrumental member of the Saint Mary’s University community — in addition to a familiar face.
Because of this leadership, commitment and the transformational philanthropy he and his wife Joette have shown to Saint Mary’s, the Gostomskis were presented with the Saint Mary’s University Heritage Award during the Red Carpet Centennial Gala held on the Winona campus on June 22.
A lifelong Winonan, Mike reflects on his first job at Winona Heating and Ventilating. “I was 12 years old when I started working there, sweeping floors. I’ve never worked anywhere else in my life.” Today he serves as president and chief executive officer of WHV, a heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and roofing business with a primary focus on commercial customers and industrial applications. Mike has also served as director of Fastenal since 1973. Gostomski’s ties to Saint Mary’s span 50+ years, from his time here as an undergraduate between the years of 1958 and 1962, when he worked to pay his own tuition bill. “My four-year tuition didn’t quite reach $2,000, but I paid for it all myself,” he said.
Today, the Gostomski family ensures college access for other students, particularly students from Poland and First-Generation Scholars, through scholarships they support. “I’m extremely proud of the students whom my family and I have helped to attend Saint Mary’s. They’ve all done well academically, and we’ve enjoyed staying in touch with them even after they graduate.”
Mike personally worked on the construction of five new buildings at Saint Mary’s from the mid 1950s into the 1970s. Today, the fieldhouse on the Winona campus, made possible through the generosity of Mike and Joette, bears the Gostomski name. “I don’t look at it as my building, but I’m happy that it’s there and that the students enjoy it,” Mike said.
The university celebrated the culmination of its Centennial year with expressions of special gratitude for the people who have made Saint Mary’s what it is today. Among those people are the Gostomskis. Audrey Kintzi, Saint Mary’s vice president for development and alumni relations, said, “At a university like Saint Mary’s, we have millions of great ideas and millions of dreams. But if we don’t have the support of people like the Gostomskis, we can’t make those dreams a reality.”