Edgar Dunis, an alumnus of Charles Darwin University and the single biggest individual donor to the institution, will celebrate his 90th birthday today (Thursday, 24 June).
Having donated more than $300,000 including property to the university, Mr Dunis has contributed not only to CDU and its predecessors, but also to the growth of the Territory as a whole.
Born in Latvia between the world wars, Mr Dunis trained and worked as an electrical engineer under Russian and then German occupation.
Like many displaced people in Europe at the end of World War II, Mr Dunis came to Darwin by chance.
His training in electrical engineering was an invaluable asset to Public Works in Darwin, where he helped install and then continually upgrade the diesel generators that powered the city.
Apart from helping to keep the city running, Mr Dunis built his own home from scratch and both he and it survived Cyclone Tracy. He was a founding member of the Real Fruit Council which promoted the Territory’s fledgling mango industry, and was also a founding member of the Darwin Visual Artists Association.
When close to retirement, Mr Dunis joined painting and sculpture classes at the Darwin Community College, a predecessor of CDU, and finished his part-time studies with a Bachelor of Arts.
Mr Dunis’ generous donations continue to fund the two Edgar Dunis Fine Arts Scholarships valued at $5000.