The nearly complete volleyball and basketball gymnasium at Kansas University will be named in honor of the family of a wealthy alum from Salina.
Donations by Stewart Horesji to the KU athletic program will be recognized with dedication of the Horesji Family Athletic Center. The 16,500-square-foot building is on the southwest corner of Allen Fieldhouse.
The project, funded through private donations, was to have been finished Nov. 1, but some bleachers have yet to be installed.
The KU men's basketball team has practiced one time in the facility.
"They really liked it," said Doug Vance, assistant athletics director.
Next season, the building will serve as home court for Jayhawk volleyball. There's enough room for two volleyball practice courts and one competition court.
Horesji, (pronounced Horish), graduated from KU in 1959 and went to work at Brown Welding Supply, a Salina company founded by his grandfather in 1921.
Horesji built a fortune, but not exclusively from the welding business. In 1980, he bought 40 shares of Berkshire Hathaway stock. In October, his holdings in Berkshire were pegged at more than $200 million.
Like his mentor Warren Buffett, Horesji lives modestly. He owns a conventional suburban house at his hometown of Salina.
His method of giving away money also was inspired by Buffett.
At a 1997 shareholder meeting, Buffett said that much in life hinged on a person's parents -- the genes they supply and the upbringing they give a child. Buffett called it "the ovarian lottery."
Horejsi responded by deciding to turn over ownership of the family welding-supply business to a foundation. Under IRS rules, the foundation would sell the business in a few years. The sale would fund an endowment that finances school vouchers for impoverished or minority students.
"I got to thinking, if I had been born in Russia, I could have learned to make the system work to my favor," Horesji told the Salina Journal.
"Or if I had been born in Italy, I could have made that system work for me."
However, he was uncertain if he could have managed had he been born black in America.
"I want to do what I can to level the playing field for those who didn't get as good a deal as I did growing up."
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