FALL 2008 VOL. 9 NO. 2

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Dennis Gurtz ’68, MBA ’72, knew his wife Carolyn (education) ’70 was a great cook and baker, but he had no idea her cookies would be worth so much dough. Carolyn’s peanut butter cookies took the $1 million grand prize in the 2008 Pillsbury Bake-Off.

Carolyn was among the 100 finalists in Dallas, and like all finalists she was told to have her bags packed and to be ready to fly to New York in case she won. Carolyn was convinced there was no way she would win, so there was no reason to pack. But Dennis insisted. “I figured if we were packed and ready to go, I could check out the antique map store down the street before we had to head to the airport,” says Dennis, who collects old maps. And Carolyn, much to her surprise and delight, won the Jif Peanut Butter award, the category award, and then the million-dollar grand prize. “Just like that, we were on the plane to New York,” says Dennis. “We never got to the map store.”

The next few days were a whirl of activity as Carolyn went through an intense blitz of publicity, including an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show, all with Dennis waiting patiently on the sidelines. “I was her personal assistant,” Dennis laughs.

Carolyn has been entering baking contests since 1972, and Dennis has been happily eating her creations throughout their 38-year marriage. They met as Maryland students; Dennis was very active with Alpha Phi Omega, the service fraternity, during his time at Maryland, and Carolyn was active with the service sorority.

Dennis, who majored in accounting, came back to the Smith School for his MBA while working for Ringling Brothers Circus: “I juggled the books,” says Dennis. Pursuing an MBA program part-time was a great fit for Dennis. “I think I learned more because I could see how my classes applied while I was working,” says Dennis. “Plus my education was tax-deductible.”

Now a personal financial planner, Dennis is happy to help his wife invest her newfound funds wisely. So what’s on his list of top 10 tips for managing personal finances?

“Live within your income,” he advises. “If you live within your income, you’re always better off the next year. And follow the rule of one-third: When you get a raise or whatever, one-third should go to taxes, one-third for spending, and one-third for saving. If you do that you’ll avoid a lot of stress.”

The Gurtzes live with dog Tucker and have two sons, Michael (fine art) ’99; and David, married to Amy; and one grandson, Owen.

Get in Touch! Contact information for Dennis and Carolyn Gurtz is available on the eAlumni Network.


Copyright 2008 Robert H. Smith School of Business