Daily News

Longtime Listener Bequeaths $3 Million to New England Public Media

SPRINGFIELD — The late Walter Wolnik of Amherst has bequeathed New England Public Media $3 million, the largest gift in NEPM’s history. The transformational gift will support NEPM’s ongoing commitment to presenting classical music on the radio in Western Mass., with a specific focus on access to classical music overnight.

“We are honored by the trust that Walter Wolnik has placed in us with this wonderful gift,” said Matt Abramovitz, president of NEPM. “A gift of this magnitude not only has a significant impact on our organization for many years to come, but truly benefits the entire classical community.”

Wolnik passed away on Sept. 20, 2022 at the age of 76. He was born and raised in Indian Orchard, where he attended a local high school before graduating from Harvard University in 1969. Wolnik then studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was a systems programming consultant for labs at several hospitals in the Boston area and spent a significant portion of time researching and managing his investments. He lived in Newton before moving to Amherst in 2000, where he was active in local politics and enjoyed gardening.

He was a longtime listener to NEPM and was especially fond of classical music in the overnight hours. Wolnik never married, but had a strong bond with his nieces, Susan Jongeneel and Cindy Peters, throughout his life.

“He was very smart, he was shy, and he moved carefully around people, but this did not prevent him from being involved in his community,” Jongeneel said. “He was a very good and decent person.”

Added Patrick Carpenter, senior director of Development for NEPM, “to know Mr. Wolnik believed deeply enough in NEPM, our mission, and our people to invest in the organization in the way he did is truly inspiring. We are honored to be a part of his legacy, and we look forward to stewarding the funds and intentions he entrusted to us at the very highest level possible.”