Guardians of the Future

September 01, 2013

Joseph "Bud" Erhardt left a legacy in the battle against cancer.

Bud Erhardt with granddaughters Emily, left, and Trisha.Joseph “Bud” Erhardt lived life to its fullest, and that also meant giving to others so that they, too, could overcome challenges and make the most of opportunities. Erhardt, a long-time friend and donor to the John Wayne Cancer Institute, died earlier this year at age 90.

“He was dedicated to his family, and he was beloved by not only his immediate family but the extended family,” says Craig Harrison, Erhardt’s son-in-law. “Because of his success in business, he was able to share and support extended family members. He was always there for people. He never took credit. You wouldn’t find out anything he had done for someone unless it slipped out in a conversation.”

Erhardt was born in 1922 in Chicago. After serving in World War II, he and his wife, Mickey, moved to Los Angeles. In 1949, Erhardt became a salesman for the Pacific Paper Box Company, which makes rigid paper boxes that are used in a variety of industries.

Erhardt rose up the ranks to become president and never retired. Even in his later years he came into the office for a few hours on most days. Always a charitable man who gave to many organizations, Erhardt focused on a handful of special causes later in his life.

“Bud believed that it was your responsibility to give back as much as you could,” Harrison says.

The John Wayne Cancer Institute was one of Erhardt’s favorite organizations. One of his two children, daughter Wendy – Harrison’s wife – was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 2000 and was successfully treated at the Institute. Mickey Erhardt also suffered from cancer and was treated at the Institute. Mickey and Bud had been married 60 years when she died in 2009. The couple also have a son, Terry, and four grandchildren.

While Erhardt conducted his philanthropy quietly, he was resolute about making his wishes known to his survivors. He knew that a single sentence in a will could impact the future and allow an individual to determine his or her legacy.

“Bud’s unwavering generosity for more than a decade helped further innovative cancer research at the Institute,” said Andy Trilling, vice president of development. “We are truly grateful to the Erhardt family for making this significant bequest to the Institute in their estate plans, which will further their legacy of helping cancer patients today and well into the future.”

Planned giving is the easiest gift to make and costs nothing now; those who choose this option have the satisfaction of knowing they’ve provided for the John Wayne Cancer Institute in the future. We thank the individuals who share with us their intentions about their estate plans, so we can recognize them as a member of the Institute’s legacy society, the Guardians of the Future.