Ezekiel “Zeke” Dumke Jr., a prominent Utah philanthropist, died Saturday. He was 94 years old.
A statement from the Dumke family said he passed away “peacefully at home surrounded by a family.”
“Although he is gone, his presence will remain through the places and lives he touched,” the family statement said. “Zeke’s love was immense and he lived his life fully to the very end. His passion and dedication to serving his community has been reflected by the overwhelming love and support our family has received in the past few days. He will be greatly missed.”
The Ogden native and his wife, Kay, who died in 2014, were known, among other things, for generous charitable giving to causes such as University of Utah athletics and health programs; Westminster College; Weber State University; Red Butte Garden; and a host of other community efforts.
University of Utah President Ruth Watkins said in a statement that Dumke will be deeply missed by university students, staff and faculty.
“Zeke and his beloved wife, Kay, shared a passionate commitment to the University of Utah and gave generously of their time, enthusiasm and financial resources to support dozens of university programs — including Red Butte Garden, our gymnastics team, University of Utah Health, and our campus art and cultural programs,” Watkins said.
Born in 1923 in Ogden, Dumke graduated from the New Mexico Military Institute and served with the Navy during World War II and later with the Army reserve, according to a biography on the Dumke Foundation website. He also graduated from the U. in 1950 with a bachelor’s degree in banking and finance, and was a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity.
The U. president added that, in particular, she will miss Dumke’s “intellectual curiosity.”
“Even toward the end of his life, he welcomed and wanted to hear new ideas from all areas of campus,” Watkins said. “His enthusiasm and energy were unmatched. He and Kay were more than just philanthropists; they were partners in helping the university achieve its mission.”
Dumke was president of many organizations, including Western States Management, the University of Utah Hospital Foundation, the Salt Lake Rotary Foundation and the Dumke Insurance Agency.
He was also a past president of the Museum of Natural History, Red Butte Garden, Alta Club and Salt Lake Rotary club, and held board positions on a number of business, arts and community entities.