March 19, 2018
Leslie Gonda, a longtime Mayo Clinic patient who with his wife, Susan, supported the construction of the Gonda Building in Rochester, Minnesota, passed away on Friday, March 16, at 98.
“We are deeply saddened at the news of Mr. Gonda’s death and offer our sincere condolences to the entire Gonda family and all who knew him," says Dr. John Noseworthy, president and CEO, Mayo Clinic. "He was an extraordinary friend of Mayo Clinic, and his legacy will be cherished for many years to come.”
In 1997, Mr. and Mrs. Gonda pledged $45 million toward the first phase of the Gonda Building, a transformative project that accelerated practice integration and became known as the “front door” to Mayo Clinic, creating a physical expression of the Mayo Clinic Model of Care.
“Susan and I are pleased to extend our support for this important project that will take the core values of Mayo Clinic and project them into the next century and beyond,” Mr. Gonda said at the time of the gift.
A native of Hungary, Mr. Gonda moved to Venezuela after World War II. Mr. Gonda had a relationship with Mayo Clinic that spanned nearly 60 years, with he and his wife Susan starting to visit Mayo Clinic while they both lived in Venezuela. The Gondas later moved to the U.S., where Mr. Gonda co-founded International Lease Finance Corporation, which later became one of the largest airliner leasing companies in the world.
“Leslie Gonda was a visionary businessman and philanthropist. We are deeply grateful for his transformative generosity, and it is hard to overstate the impact that he and his family have had on Mayo Clinic,” Dr. Noseworthy says.
In addition to continued support for the Gonda Building, the Gonda’s philanthropy included gifts for the Gonda Vascular Center and the Gonda Hyperbaric and Altitude Medicine Facility.
Beyond their extraordinary generosity, the Gondas were true friends of Mayo Clinic, referring many of their friends, relatives and business associates to Mayo for care. The Gondas considered many Mayo physicians among their closest friends, and their son, Lou Gonda, is an emeritus member of the Mayo Clinic Board of Trustees.