GVSU celebrates the life of longtime supporter, son of university founder

Grand Valley leaders are celebrating the life of David G. Frey, son of Edward Frey, one of Grand Valley’s founders. He died June 14 at age 81.

David Frey was a strong advocate for GVSU, supporting multiple campaigns and sitting on the executive committee of the Grand Valley University Foundation. He served as a GVU Foundation director since the 1980s.  

David and his wife, the Honorable Judith C. Frey, former mayor of East Grand Rapids, have been supporters of Grand Valley and leaders in the West Michigan community for decades.

David Frey in dark suit, blue shirt and tie
David G. Frey died June 14 at age 81.

“David Frey’s influence on the growth and success of Grand Valley in this community cannot be overstated. His legacy lives on in every aspect of our downtown and health campuses,” said President Philomena V. Mantella. “David followed in his parents’ footsteps as a leader for the West Michigan community, and we are forever appreciative that Grand Valley was included in his vision.”

Frey helped grow Grand Valley’s downtown presence as chair of the Grand Design 2000 Campaign. This helped the university acquire the land for the Pew Grand Rapids Campus and ultimately raise the funds to complete the Richard M. DeVos Center. 

“Over the years, David Frey became our ‘go-to guy’ for so many initiatives and ideas. He brought a contagious passion for this region into every decision and inspired us to believe anything was possible,” said President Emeritus Arend D. Lubbers. 

Frey served as co-chair of the campaign to build the L. William Seidman Center, which houses the Seidman College of Business. Working alongside Doug DeVos, Frey gathered community support to give the growing business program its own building and honor the memory of GVSU founder Bill Seidman. 

In 2008, with Frey at its helm, the Frey Foundation envisioned and funded an endowed chair in the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy, which was the first of its kind in the nation. The Frey Foundation Chair for Family Philanthropy now engages with a network of partners to pursue a comprehensive, international program of applied research and education. 

For four decades, Frey contributed to the university’s growth and development. In 1998, he received an honorary Doctorate of Business Administration from Grand Valley.


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