Philanthropist Peter Gautschi dies in tragic accident
The widely respected hotelier and philanthropist Peter Gautschi has been killed in a car crash in Myanmar, where he was pursuing his passion to help the underprivileged.
Media reports say that a Toyota Prado carrying the 86-year-old Swiss and two other passengers along the Yangon-Naypyidaw expressway collided with a car while trying to overtake. Gautschi and two women were killed immediately and four others were injured.
The hotelier was much loved and hugely respected. An outpouring of sadness in email exchanges are being circulated by friends and former associates, describing a man who was “the Swiss hotel pioneer in all of Asia”, “the grand man of hospitality”, “the best boss ever with a very kind heart” and “a truly strong man [who put] smiles on children’s faces, providing an education which allows them to live a dignified life”.
Gautschi retired in 2001 after five decades in the hotel business, including almost 30 years with The Peninsula Group. He also founded Swiss-Belhotel International. He created the Studer Trust (studertrust.org), named after his mother, when he discovered that his US$40,000 sponsorship of a new school in Henan, China, through UNESCO, had been misspent and wasted.
In 2010 alone, Studer Trust completed more than 130 projects – mostly schools in China and Myanmar – at a cost of more than $1.3 million by avoiding bureaucracy. Gautschi collaborated with civilians instead of governments and personally covered the salaries of a few employees in the field.
[pictured: Peter Gautschi at a scholarship presentation in Jiangxi, 2009]