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Gillett Society Donor Spotlight: Bill & Mary Seeger

Bill & Mary Seeger

How did you meet?

We met in Madison at the University of Wisconsin. I sat behind him in a class.

Bill grew up in Grand Rapids, but what brought us to Grand Valley was not his background or the family business, The Schnitzelbank Restaurant, 1934-2006. It was his admiration for Grand Valley’s first president, James Zumberge, who had been his geology professor in Ann Arbor.

Favorite memory of Grand Valley?

There are far too many to consider, but perhaps our first view of the college: a model on a card table in the old gray farmhouse on M-45, which was then M-50. That was the only building at the time, and we were captivated by the thought of being part of a brand-new venture.

Favorite quote?

“Well, if you go to that little college, you won’t stay long,” was said to us over 50 years ago. We ignored it and stayed from 1965 to 2005.

Favorite hobby?

We both are major collectors. We collect china dinnerware sets, antiques from Scandinavia, and Atwater Kent radios, to name a few.

Favorite place to dine out in Grand Rapids area?

We love to eat at Leo’s.

Why did you decide to give a planned estate gift?

I (Mary) helped launch the very successful Faculty & Staff Campaign program that still runs today. Planned estate gifts are a natural culmination of faculty and staff generosity.

In your opinion, is this type of giving an easy process?

Yes! Our estate planning attorney and the University Development staff provide all the resources we need.

What impact do you hope this will have?

We hope our gift will ensure the continuation of the place we love and its programs.

What would you say to current faculty or staff members to encourage them to become members of the Gillett Society? 

Grand Valley has enjoyed great support from the community and continues to be a major employer and contributor to the entire state. It’s important for those of us who have benefited from that generosity to do our share in its continuation.

Why do you think it’s important for alumni to give back to Grand Valley in this way?

We had so many opportunities provided to us while we were in school and by Grand Valley, and we feel it’s important to make sure that those who follow us have at least as many opportunities as we did as students. As the saying goes, “pay it forward by paying it back.”