Grand Valley mourns Stuart Padnos

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The Grand Valley State University community is mourning the death of Stuart Padnos, an entrepreneur, businessman and generous donor to the university. Stuart, who was the senior vice president at Louis Padnos Iron and Metal Company, died Tuesday, April 3. He was 90. 

In 1999, in memory of his late wife and her adventurous, open-minded spirit, Stuart established the Barbara H. Padnos International Scholarship for Grand Valley students. The endowed scholarship provides study abroad stipends for an extended time period to enable students to have an in-depth experience in another country. “Being able to travel opens up one more venue for students,” Stuart said of the scholarship. “It’s extremely important for a school like Grand Valley to have an extensive study abroad program. Many students are from West Michigan, and some of these kids have not had a chance to travel.”

Grand Valley State University President Thomas J. Haas said: “Stuart Padnos helped enrich the lives of Grand Valley students for generations and his legacy lives on, especially in our study abroad and fine arts programs which help our students gain a broader perspective and help prepare them for life after graduation. He will be missed by the entire Grand Valley community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Padnos family.” 

In 2005, Stuart established the Stuart and Barbara Padnos Chair in Art and Design to promote the teaching of art at Grand Valley. The endowment allowed Grand Valley to recruit an art and design professor to raise the level of the entire program. In appreciation of this generosity, the exhibition space in the Calder Art Center was named for Stuart and Barbara. Stuart also donated his sculpture of a life-size marching band which graces the Allendale Campus.

Arend D. Lubbers, president emeritus of Grand Valley, said: “Stuart Padnos was a close friend of mine. We shared many of the same interests and I have always been grateful for his interest in Grand Valley and his support for the arts and for study abroad. He significantly advanced the university in both of those fields. One of the most interesting negotiations I had with Stuart was persuading him to give the band sculpture to the university. It is a landmark on our campus and a testimony to his many talents and good humor.”

Stuart is the uncle of Shelley Padnos, vice chair and trustee of the Grand Valley State University Board of Trustees.

In 2000, Stuart was recognized by the university for his leadership with an Enrichment Award. He also served on the Advisory Cabinet for the Grand Valley University Foundation Board of Directors. In 2010, he was the recipient of an honorary degree during spring commencement, and in 2011 he received recognition as one of the university’s Grand Stewards for his support of the university and the community.