GVSU mourns death of former GVU foundation director and longtime supporter

Gary Verplank
Gary Verplank
Image Credit: Courtesy photo

Gary Verplank, longtime supporter of Grand Valley State University’s Robert B. Annis Water Resources Institute and member of the Grand Valley University Foundation advisory committee, died February 11; he was 78.

"Gary was one of the university's most dedicated supporters. He was instrumental in expanding the research capacity at the Annis Water Resources Institute and connecting Grand Valley with the needs of the lakeshore community," said President Thomas J. Haas. "He was an important member of the Grand Valley family and we will miss him."

Among the many ways he impacted Grand Valley students, Verplank, and his wife, Vicki, were active committee members in the campaign for the Lake Michigan Center at the Annis Water Resources Institute, and most recently served on the campaign committee for the institute's Robert B. Annis Field Station, which opened and was formally dedicated in 2013. He received an honorary degree (Doctor of Public Service) from Grand Valley in 2017.

"Gary was a very good friend to me, the Annis Water Resources Institute and our entire community," said Alan Steinman, the Allen and Helen Hunting Director of AWRI. "His passion for making the lakeshore better for future generations was an inspiration; his involvement, interest and engagement will be sorely missed." 

Verplank was the CEO of Shape corp., Light Corp., and other affiliated local companies that employ more than 2,000 Grand Haven-area residents and 1,500 associates at their international facilities.

In addition to his role with the university's foundation, Verplank was a member of the Ferrysburg City Council; vice president of the Chamber of Commerce of Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Ferrysburg; president and board member of the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation; chairman of the North Ottawa Community Coalition; and past Spring Lake Yacht Club commodore and board member.

Among his many honors, Verplank was recognized by the West Michigan Business Hall of Fame and he was the recipient of the Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Citizen Award and Lifetime Achievement Award.

A funeral will be held February 15, at 11 a.m. at All Shores Wesleyan Church in Spring Lake. Visitation will be held February 14, from 3-7 p.m. at All Shores Wesleyan Church. Interment will take place at a later date in the Spring Lake Township Cemetery.

For more information, visit the funeral home's website.