Campus community mourns death of Bea Idema

portrait of Bea Idema
Devoted philanthropist Beatrice "Bea" Idema died on February 3.
Image credit - courtesy photo

The Grand Valley and West Michigan communities are celebrating the life of devoted philanthropist Beatrice “Bea” Idema, who died on February 3. 

Bea and her late husband, Bill, were significant and loyal supporters of Grand Valley. Bea’s generosity played a major role in establishing the Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons on the Allendale Campus. The library, named for her sister-in-law, opened in 2013 and is the academic heart of the university; it remains a national standard of excellence for university libraries. 

“Bea was a role model for philanthropists and will continue to set the example for women who give in this community," said President Philomena V. Mantella. "She was always interested in Grand Valley students and the impact they would have on the future of our region. She had a spirit of giving that was truly special. Our hearts are with the Idema family and all those who loved Bea.”  

Bea and Bill were passionate about giving to Grand Valley students. After Bill’s death in 2008, Bea established the William “Bill” Idema Physics Scholarship to assist students who were studying physics and demonstrated financial need. She also established the Beatrice “Bea” A. Idema Nursing Endowed Scholarship for nursing students, and created the Philip Peter Versluis Criminal Justice scholarship, named in honor of her brother-in-law, to assist legal studies and criminal justice students. 

Over the years, the Idemas supported many projects, including the Grand Design campaign, which helped create the university’s Pew Grand Rapids Campus. They were also early supporters of the university’s Health Campus; a classroom is named in their honor in the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences. 

“The breadth of Bea’s giving has created opportunities for students in all majors," said Chris Plouff, interim provost and executive vice president for Academic and Student Affairs. "Every time I walk into the Mary Idema Pew Library and see the unique and creative activities happening there, I remember that donors like Bea made all of this possible. We are all better off because she cared.”  

In 2013, Bea was honored by Grand Valley with its Enrichment Award and inducted into the university’s Hall of Fame. She was awarded an honorary doctor of public service degree from the university in 2015.


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