Skip Viragh's Life
Skip's journey from boy to man happened at Chaminade, and it's where he came to understand that, as he put it, "life is about relationships." Skip valued his many friendships and cultivated them his entire life. He felt that it was through these relationships that we all improve our relationships with God.
Skip's life was also a testament to entrepreneurial spirit through taking risks, persisting and learning from failure. At the age of 44, Skip's distribution company failed and he was forced to declare bankruptcy. Skip was out of work in a difficult economic time.
Through faith as well as the urging of a friend, Skip began to pursue another opportunity. With no previous experience, and always asking questions, Skip quickly learned the complex world of the financial investment industry. The result is a great American success story. Skip's successes include:
- Developing the first leveraged index fund to use stock index futures and options aimed at the public, not just institutional investors
- Establishing a fund for market timers, allowing investors to move money between mutual funds more frequently
- Starting and growing Rydex Funds from a staff of three and $20 million, to more than 200 employees and $10 billion in assets managed
- Being named one of Investment News' 25 most influential people in the industry
Skip continued to emphasize the importance of relationships even within his company. He made it policy for all employees--including himself--to drop what they were doing at 3:00 p.m. each day to field customer calls. One time, he won the in-house award for fielding the most calls.
A Lasting Legacy
Tragically, Skip died of pancreatic cancer on December 11, 2003. Perhaps the most telling part of Skip's legacy will be his commitment to charity:
- Set in motion before his death, he gave more than $13.5 million to his alma mater, Spring Hill College, making him the college's largest benefactor
- More than $1 million has been raised in Skip's memory by his friends and business associates and donated to the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins and dozens of wishes have been granted for Make-A-Wish Foundation for children
- Through annual events, friends and family continue to donate to cancer research and Make-A-Wish in Skip's name
It is fitting that in the year 2009, the year that Skip would have celebrated his 50 year class reunion, Chaminade announced the kickoff of the Centennial Campaign with the incredible gift from Skip and the entire Viragh family. The gift was made to honor Skip's wish to "do something special for Chaminade."
Skip is survived by his longtime companion Betty Alexander; three daughters, Paula Williams, Debbie Viragh, and Amanda McKee; and his siblings, Bob Viragh, Mark Viragh, Katherine Viragh and Jean Dahl.