Sally Munk: A Passion for Food and People

Sally and Marlin MunkIn the depths of the Great Depression, the destitute would go from house to house looking for scraps of food, maybe an apple or a heel of bread passed through the door. When beggars came to the door of their Springport farmhouse, Sally Munk remembered, her mother would give them an ultimatum: leave hungry or join the family at the table for dinner.

Joanne Gulliver, Sally’s niece by marriage, wonders if the memory of her mother’s kindness was the reason Sally decided to leave a portion of her IRA to the Food Bank. Sally Munk passed away at the age of 92 this October.

“Years ago, she said she wanted to leave her money to the Food Bank,” Joanne said. “And that started me thinking, ‘Yeah, what better thing?’”

Born in 1921 to Charlie and Jessie Welker, Genevieve “Sally” Munk briefly attended Michigan State University before leaving to care for her mother, who was ill. After her mother’s death, Sally joined her sister in Grand Rapids and met her future husband, Marlin, a grocery store clerk, in 1947 after he returned from the war.

They loved Grand Rapids, its people and its food, and would live in the city the rest of their lives. An administrative assistant by day, Sally was a foodie before the term was coined. Marlin did the grocery shopping, but Sally did the cooking. Her dinner parties, hosted at their home near Aquinas College, earned her a degree of local fame, culminating in a feature in the Grand Rapids Press.

Sally didn’t like to talk about herself, but she was effusive when it came to restaurants. “Her three favorites were, in ranking order,” Joanne said, laughing: Marco’s in Forest Hills, Cherie Inn (for their Eggs Benedict), and Marie Catrib’s, a Lebanese eatery in East Hills. In her later years as a resident of Clark Retirement Community, she kept the kitchen staff on their toes as the home’s resident food critic.

After Marlin’s death, Sally remained active, learning to operate a computer in order to video-chat with her grand-nieces and nephews. Clark residents have Sally to thank for cajoling the management into adding the Big Ten network to their cable service. Much of her time was devoted to volunteering, which she did with a number of organizations including a hospice care group.

“She never said exactly why the Food Bank [was her chosen charity],” Joanne said, “but this thing with her mother feeding people and her feeding people — it’s just a natural extension of her personality.”

Sally Munk’s planned gift will be divided between the John Arnold Endowment and the Food Bank’s general operating budget. Her generosity is going to put meals on the tables of people in need today and for years to come. We’re grateful for this incredible gift and the exuberant woman who gave it.

Do you want to learn more about planned giving? We’d love to talk with you. Contact Pattijean McCahill at 616.389.6356 or send her an email at

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