GVSU remembers philanthropist and supporter Esther Padnos

Esther Padnos
Esther Padnos was a longtime supporter of Grand Valley.
Image Credit: Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley State University joins West Michigan in mourning the death of Esther Padnos, who died December 19.

Padnos was a committed supporter of education and the environment. She was preceded in death by her husband, Seymour K. Padnos. 

Esther and Seymour were longtime Grand Valley supporters whose generosity created a major impact on the university community and in West Michigan. Together, they played a key role in the development and expansion of Grand Valley’s sciences, mathematics and engineering programs, helping to greatly boost the regional talent pipeline in these professions.

In 1996, to honor the couple's commitment to creating an environment where students and faculty can reach their full potential in these fields, Grand Valley dedicated the Seymour and Esther Padnos Hall of Science on the Allendale Campus. Their generosity and leadership were also recognized with the naming of the Seymour and Esther Padnos College of Engineering and Computing. 

“Esther’s loyal support for Grand Valley students for more than 30 years has changed the lives of thousands of students," said President Philomena V. Mantella. "She will be remembered as a significant part of our history, with a legacy that will stretch far into the future. She will be missed.”

Esther and Seymour Padnos
The generosity of Esther and Seymour Padnos made a major impact on Grand Valley and West Michigan.
Image Credit: Grand Valley State University

Esther was passionate about addressing the national shortage of nurses and its impact on health care in the region. In 2007, to help students overcome financial barriers to completing their degrees, Esther and her husband established the Esther R. Padnos Nursing Scholarship to support and inspire students in the accelerated nursing program. 

“Esther’s gentle and compassionate nature, and her sincere interest in helping students and others in West Michigan, have marked her as one of the area’s philanthropic leaders. We will always remember her with gratitude,” said Arend D. Lubbers, president emeritus.

Both Esther and Seymour received honorary doctorates of humane letters from Grand Valley in 1996. In 2011, they received the Grand Steward award at the annual Enrichment Dinner for their significant leadership, service and financial support of Grand Valley and its students.