Founder Gene Sit
MMAF’s lead founder is Gene Sit, a remarkable man who passed away on June 24, 2008 at age 69. Although Gene was born in China, his American pride and commitment to giving back resulted in the creation of Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund. Gene’s simple idea of saying “thanks” to Minnesota service members has had a tremendous impact and is a legacy that we at MMAF are committed to continuing.
Gene’s incredible life story includes being kidnapped by Chinese gangsters and held for ransom for nine months at age seven, being sent to America at age 10, away from his mother, to a father who was ill and died soon thereafter. Relatives in Arkansas stepped in and agreed to care for Gene. He learned the language, finished 12 years of school in eight years and earned a scholarship to college.
Gene’s career began at Commonwealth Edison in Chicago, and then he spent 13 years at Investors Diversified Services before launching his own investment firm, Sit Investment Associates (SIA), in 1981 at age 42. SIA remains one of Minnesota’s largest investment management firms, managing more than $13 billion in assets. Five of Gene’s six children have worked for the firm, including his son Roger Sit, who serves as chairman and CEO.
Gene’s life experiences made him a true believer in the American dream. One of his final endeavors was launching MMAF, an undertaking that spoke directly to his love of country. MMAF is a reflection of Gene’s patriotism and deep appreciation for the sacrifices made by our Minnesota service members.