Grand Valley remembers the life of Earl Holton

Leaders in West Michigan and at Grand Valley are celebrating the life of Earl Holton. Holton was an active community member, GVSU supporter, advisor for the Grand Valley University Foundation and a past member of the Board of Trustees. He died May 10, 2024, at age 90. 

The former president of Meijer Inc., Holton, and his wife, Donnalee, have been supporters of Grand Valley for over 40 years. Their love for the university prompted them to support multiple projects while also inspiring friends and family members to assist in the development and growth of GVSU.

Earl and Donnalee Holton at a black tie event in the DeVos Place
Earl and Donnalee Holton are pictured at Enrichment Dinner at DeVos Place. Both Holtons are past Board of Trustee members.
Image credit - Amanda Pitts

“The Grand Valley community is deeply saddened by Earl’s passing,” President Philomena V. Mantella said. “He was a philanthropic leader with his wife, Donnalee. They have been pillars of our GVSU community and ambassadors who encouraged those around them to invest in GVSU and the West Michigan community. Our thoughts and prayers are with Donnalee and their entire family.”

Holton served on Grand Valley’s Board of Trustees from 1983-1984 and most recently on the Grand Valley University Foundation advisory cabinet.

To honor their service to the university, President Emeritus Thomas J. Haas dedicated a new living and learning center in their name, along with friends Bob and Judy Hooker, in 2016. The Holton-Hooker Living and Learning Center allows an integration of living and learning for first-year students.

small crowd in hallway of living center, two men wear suits, women in dresses
Donnalee and Earl Holton laugh with Andy Beachnau, right, during the 2016 dedication of the Holton-Hooker Living Center.

The Holtons have invested in a number of projects at Grand Valley, including the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences, the Daniel and Pamella DeVos Center for Interprofessional Health, and the Gayle R. Davis Center for Women and Gender Equity. They also donated a collection of Vita Quotidiana Nell'italia Antica books to Grand Valley in 2004. The Holtons supported the Shaping Our Future Campaign and the WGVU Digital Future and Public Broadcasting Campaign as well as multiple scholarships and endowments.

 In 1997, Earl received an honorary doctorate degree from Grand Valley in business administration. Earl and Donnalee were members of the GVSU Gillett Society.


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