Beloved Lander University employee loses home in Sunday fire
Story by Karen Petit
Virginia Gunter, an 83-year-old Lander University employee, finished her shift in the dining hall on Sunday (Jan. 23) and drove home – only to have disaster strike.
When she drove into her garage, Gunter realized that the car was on fire. “The car was making noises and seemed to be overheating,” said Gunter, who arrived home about 4 p.m. after finishing work.
She rushed into the house to call 911 and rescue her dog Sadie, a 10-year-old Pomeranian. As she stood on her patio, a neighbor, Ronnie McAllister, ran over and led her away from danger. “He said, ‘we’ve got to get away from the house,’ ” Gunter said. “He began dragging me away, and we went over to his house. By then, the fire department was on the way.”
Shortly thereafter, her home in Greenwood was engulfed in flames and destroyed. Away from the fire, Gunter called her daughter, Pam Moore, who lives nearby. “I couldn’t believe it. It’s devastating,” Moore said. “We are so thankful that she got out and is safe.”
Gunter, who has lived in her home for about 20 years, has four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. During her tenure with Lander Dining, faculty, staff and students look for her and appreciate her smile and cheerful greetings.
“Ever since joining our team in the summer of 2005, Ms. Virginia has been a steadfast icon of Lander Dining,” said Mathew Lugo, general manager of Aramark at Lander. “Virginia aids in providing an ‘experience’ for our guests as she interacts with them on a daily basis. She is always smiling and thoroughly enjoys her time with the Lander community.”
Although some items, kept in a filing cabinet, probably can be preserved, the house is a total loss, including decades of photos, personal items and Gunter’s treasured antiques, Moore said.
A GoFundMe page has been established by her granddaughter, Stephanie Moore, who said, “We know that these are difficult times for many people. Even if you can’t contribute, we ask that you share this with others. We appreciate the support that our family is receiving.”
The GoFundMe link is https://gofund.me/15accf85.