Local Philanthropist Peter Secchia has Died
He was a big supporter of the City of Grand Rapids and Michigan State University. He was a very successful businessman and also served as the U.S. Ambassador to Italy. Peter Secchia passed away on Wednesday, October 21st, 2020.
Secchia died at home surrounded by his family. He had been dealing with health problems for several months and recently contracted COVID-19. He had been receiving treatment at his home. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Joan Secchia.
He earned a bachelor’s degree at Michigan State University. In 1962, after attending college, Secchia and his wife moved to Grand Rapids, where he went to work as a salesman for Universal Forest Products Inc. in 1962. Within 9 years, Secchia was running the place. Annual sales had climbed to $1.6 billion by the time he retired in 2002.
He also loved politics. When Gerald R. Ford was President, he served as vice chair of the Republican National Committee and became friends with George H.W. Bush. In 1989, President Bush appointed Secchia ambassador to Italy. He held that title until January 1993.
Secchia is also partly responsible for making Grand Rapids the city that it is today. He became involved in a group called Grand Action that worked hard to revitalize downtown with Van Andel Arena, DeVos Place and the Downtown Market. He also provided seed money for the West Michigan Sports Commission, which now runs the Meijer State Games of Michigan, supports events like the Meijer LPGA Classic. The West Michigan Sports Commission also built the Art Van Sports Complex in Rockford.
Secchia also worked hard to develop a 1,400-acre site on the Grand Rapids-Walker border into what is now Millenium Park.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, funeral services will be private. Any memorial contributions can be sent to the Kent County Parks Foundation – Millennium Park, the Michigan State University Grand Rapids Research Center, or the Peter F. Secchia Endowed Scholarship at the Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.