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Seidman legacy will continue at Grand Valley

  • Amway co-founder Rich DeVos announced a generous gift to the university during the memorial
  • Hundreds gathered at Grand Valley to honor L. William Seidman
  • Seidman's son Tom was among many offering touching tributes
  • GVSU President Thomas J. Haas paid tribute to Seidman
  • Roger Porter
  • CNBC's Sue Herera
  • Student David Robinson delivered a stirring rendition of "What a Wonderful World"

Posted on September 11, 2009

It was appropriate that on the day the Grand Valley community gathered to remember founder L. William Seidman, an announcement was made that his legacy will continue at the university.

President Thomas J. Haas announced that Richard and Helen DeVos made the lead gift to launch efforts to construct a new building for the Seidman College of Business. The announcement was made on Friday, September 11, at the Seidman memorial, held in the Performing Arts Center on the Allendale Campus. Seidman died May 13 at age 88.

“Rich and Helen would like to do something directly memorializing Bill and holding up the Seidman legacy very high, and with high hopes, to keep the memory of Bill Seidman and accomplishment alive,” Haas said. The building will eventually be located on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus, at a location to be determined.

DeVos, co-founder of Amway, was also a scheduled speaker at the memorial service. “We are honored to contribute to this old tradition of keeping this school good and helping make it better,” DeVos said. “Plans are underway for this tribute and honor to him.”

More than 400 people attended the service. Tom Seidman welcomed the audience and said the only regret he had was that his father was not there. “He would have enjoyed this more than anyone else in the room,” Seidman said. “He loved being with his friends and family, and as much as anything, he loved Grand Valley.”

Many stories and memories were shared that recalled Seidman’s service to his country, his family and the work that helped establish Grand Valley. President Emeritus Arend D. Lubbers said his life changed when Bill Seidman came to Iowa to recruit him as president for this new college in West Michigan.

“When his life touched you, yours changed,” Lubbers said. “His lifetime of good deeds will always be with us.”

Other speakers included Birge Swift Watkins, former national investor outreach director, FDIC/RTC and former staff assistant to President Ford; Roger Porter, IBM Professor of Business and Government, Harvard University and Sue Herera, founding member of CNBC and co-anchor of “Power Lunch.”

Porter recalled that he traveled with Seidman to Washington in 1977 when Seidman helped establish the Washington Campus program, which would become a central location for college students across the country to learn and study with the country’s top leaders. Grand Valley was included in that pilot project and continues to send students today.

In the 1960s, Seidman helped galvanize local support for the establishment of a public four-year university in West Michigan. He would later call establishing Grand Valley one of his greatest accomplishments.

Audio Clips

President Haas said it is fitting the memorial be held at Grand Valley because Bill Seidman insisted that the university be built. (audio clip)

President Haas announced that Rich and Helen DeVos made a significant gift to the Seidman College of Business (audio clip)

Tom Seidman said as much as anything his father loved Grand Valley State University (audio clip)

Rich DeVos said he and his wife Helen want to continue an old tradition of making Grand Valley better by making a gift to the Seidman College of Business (audio clip)
Streaming video of the memorial can be viewed below:

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