Honoring a Presidential Legacy

September 8, 2020

When Bob and Judi Pantzer reflect on their fondest lifetime memories, many of them involve the University of Montana. The pair met and earned their degrees at the University, and Bob’s father, Robert T. Pantzer, served as UM president from 1966 to 1974.

Recently, Bob and Judi honored UM and celebrated President Pantzer’s legacy by naming the University as a beneficiary of their estate plan.

Bob and Judi Pantzer in Paris

“UM is a wonderful place to have been part of our lives,” Judi said.

“We are certainly proud of the legacy Bob’s family has left,” Judi said, noting that UM gives the Robert T. Pantzer Presidential Humanitarian Award annually to recognize an individual who has enhanced the humane and open learning environment at the University.

Respected for his fair-minded and calm approach, President Pantzer guided UM through the Vietnam War, helped establish the African American Studies program, and promoted academic freedom. Pantzer also launched a campaign to improve the University’s aesthetic quality, including installing a permanent concrete “M” on Mount Sentinel, the iconic Grizzly Statue and the Ryman Memorial Mall.

“Bob’s dad would be astonished that 50 years later, people still look back at his presidency with such admiration,” Judi said.

President Pantzer’s wife, Ann, also played an important role in his presidency, Bob explained about his mother.

“She was not only his wife but was his informal adviser, confidant, staunchest ally and, likely, his fiercest critic,” he said.

As for their time at the University, Bob and Judi recall many cherished memories, including meeting on a blind date at a Griz-Cat basketball game and having pizza and beer at the Heidelhaus, a popular restaurant that was located on Brooks Street.

“Our dearest, closest friendships stem from those years,” Judi reflects.

Bob graduated in 1964 with a bachelor’s degree in business and later earned an MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After serving in Vietnam as an Army infantry officer, his education led to a successful career as a financial controller. Judi graduated in 1966 with a bachelor’s degree in French and taught middle and high school for 37 years. They have lived in San Francisco for 13 years.

“Any success we’ve had is due to the fact that we received a good education,” Judi said. “That’s one of the biggest reasons why we chose to support the University.”

The Pantzers designated the Excellence Fund in their estate plan, providing unrestricted support that enables UM’s president to distribute resources where they can make the greatest impact.

Ultimately, Bob explained, their decision to support UM was an act of gratitude.

“It is important to look back at what made a difference in your life,” Bob said. “Our gift is a way of saying thank you.”

 The Pantzer Family circa 1965. Clockwise from left: Robert "Bob" Jr., Ann, Julie, Robert Sr., and Dave.