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"The Epitome of a Mensch"

The Heifetz Institute Remembers Thomas C. "Tommy" Mulitz

We are saddened to announce the passing this month of one of the Heifetz Institute’s true “Founding Fathers” – our former Board chairman Thomas C. Mulitz, “Tommy,” as he was known to all. Tommy was a beloved husband, father, and grandfather, and spiritual leader of causes great and small.

Tommy and his wife Shelley Gudelsky Mulitz have been active in philanthropic circles for decades, supporting causes local, global, and in between.  They also represent the beating heart of Heifetz: birthing, bringing up, and basking in the success of the Institute they did so much to get off the ground.

Heifetz Institute Chairman Emeritus Peter Kreeger notes: “Tommy’s ardor, enthusiasm and commitment to the Heifetz Institute before, during, and after his tenure as Board Chairman was stellar. The Institute continued to thrive under his strong leadership, and he played a pivotal role as we transitioned from Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire to Mary Baldwin in Staunton, Virginia.  Thank you, Tommy, from all of us on the Heifetz Board.”

Jimmy Cafritz photo
Shelley Gudelsky Mulitz and Tommy Mulitz – the Heifetz Institute’s “Founding Mother and Father” enjoying a laugh together at their home in Maryland. 

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Jimmy Cafritz photo

A Tribute to Tommy from Founder Daniel Heifetz:

It is difficult to put into words the depth of sadness and loss that Janne and I feel at the passing of our beloved friend, and my spiritual brother, Thomas C. “Tommy” Mulitz.

We first met Tommy and Shelley in 1992, when our daughter Elena began attending Glenelg Country School, and was in the same class as their daughter Laura. We soon became good friends, enjoying social occasions together. 

A few years later, in 1995, I began to conceive of a music institute where young classical instrumentalists would learn how to communicate the emotion of the music in their performances. I spoke to Shelley of my dream, and asked if she and Tommy would help me fulfill this vision. To my astonishment, they immediately took the ball and ran with it. I can honestly say that if it hadn’t been for Tommy and Shelley Mulitz, there would be no Heifetz International Music Institute.

Through the years, Tommy and I became like brothers. We respected and loved each other, sharing our joys and hardships. His dedication and love for the Heifetz Institute were complete and unconditional. Tommy masterfully served as Chairman of the Board of Directors for several years. As the Institute grew and encountered  a myriad of transitional issues, Tommy was involved 24/7, calling me, advising me, supporting me, and working tirelessly with the other Board members.  He was active and involved through every step of the Institute’s growth, from its beginnings in 1996 in Maryland, to our years in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, and eventually to our wonderful home  at Mary Baldwin University in Staunton, Virginia.

In Yiddish, there is a word for a man who is much more than simply a man.  The word signifies a person of integrity, character, compassion, love, and generosity of spirit.  That word is “mensch.”

Tommy Mulitz was the epitome of a mensch.  It was my privilege and honor to have known him.  He enriched my life and Janne’s, and through his dedication to the Institute, the lives of thousands of young musicians.  I am eternally grateful for his friendship, love, and support.  He was a treasured human being and will be deeply missed.

With love and eternal gratitude,

Daniel Heifetz