College of

Remembering Peter F. Secchia, 1937-2020

Share thoughts and memories of Mr. Secchia

"Together, we share sorrow with the passing of Peter F. Secchia, a distinguished alumnus, generous donor and visionary leader of the Grand Rapids community. Ambassador Secchia, a 1963 graduate of the Eli Broad College of Business, was instrumental in the remarkable development of the city’s Medical Mile into a health care, research and educational center. He was pivotal in bringing the MSU College of Human Medicine to Grand Rapids, and this season marks the 10-year anniversary of the opening of the college’s Secchia Center headquarters there. Peter and Joan Secchia’s many contributions to this university led to their appointments as honorary co-chairs of the last MSU capital campaign cabinet and being named by the MSU Alumni Association as Philanthropists of the Year in 2015. We salute the life and legacy of this extraordinary Spartan. Our thoughts are with Joan and the entire Secchia family during this difficult time."
—Michigan State University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, and the Michigan State University Board of Trustees

“Peter Secchia was a tremendous Spartan who loved his alma mater. His generosity touched many areas of our state, including Michigan State University and certainly Spartan Athletics. He was a loyal donor who provided unwavering support of our athletics programs, providing a great example for others looking to give. His impact will benefit Spartan student-athletes for years to come.The entire Michigan State Athletics community mourns with his wife Joan and the entire Secchia family.”
— MSU Athletic Director Bill Beekman

"Peter Secchia is without compare. He was unmatched in knowing how to inspire, how to encourage, when to alter strategy and when to push. He saw obstacles to doing good for others as a personal call to action; uniquely able to mobilize community and creativity and resources. Peter inspired striving without limit for things that mattered. Peter always led by example; the first to step forward offering his time, his talent, his resources. Peter is a visionary, a mentor, and a friend. He is family. When I came to the community, he welcomed me as the new dean of the medical school. He and Joan welcomed Kristina and I into their family. He spent time listening to what I felt could be accomplished and he then helped bring together individuals that could join us in making it possible. He did this with a welcoming and a pace that was motivating and confidence building. I would receive unsolicited notes of support and encouragement. He would also send notes of strategy…having scanned countless reports and newspapers every single day. He would send me questions about the science and suggest opportunities to build bridges. He was a partner in the truest sense; making sure that the medical school he loved so deeply benefited from his insights and expertise. I and we will miss him greatly. This is a time of great sadness and a call for prayers and support for his family. Secchia family, our hearts go out to you. We are here as you have so often been here for us. Let us find solace in reflecting on what this great man meant to us and to the world. Peter will want us all to build on what he has made possible and to live as he did; seeking ways to give back to community and to improve the health and well-being of others. Peter would often say to me ‘don’t worry kid, I got you.’ Peter, to you I say…’don’t worry Peter, we got you.’ You live on in the medical school you made possible and the students we graduate; you live on in the research center you made possible and the discovery and innovation and future researchers it will produce, you live on in collaborations you facilitated, and most assuredly you live on in the many of us who set our ‘boundaries of the possible’ higher because of the love, support and guidance you gave us. Love you dear friend."
— Norman J. Beauchamp Jr., MD, MHS, MSU Executive Vice President for Health Sciences

“Peter was an absolutely transformative figure. He moved mountains and people and helped build his community and his university to be so much more than they would have otherwise been. We have all been transformed by working with and, more importantly, by knowing Peter Secchia. He shared his heart, devotion, and special talents to the benefit of so many. Each of us will miss him dearly.” Aron writes more about Peter Secchia in the October 23 Dean's Update
— Aron Sousa, MD, Interim Dean, MSU College of Human Medicine

"Peter Secchia was a remarkable husband, father, grandfather, community pillar, committed Republican, philanthropist, loyal Spartan, mentor, and friend to so many. Words cannot express the loss I feel as I have had the pleasure of knowing and working for three decades with Peter. There were times where I received the famous frown face, but much more often his smiley face, phone call, or offer to help were inspirational to me. For many of the early days I knew him as a political and community leader that I always wanted on my side and he was an early and vital support for my political career! But it has been the last 14+ years that have been most meaningful to me because of his passion for MSU and his constant and continuous support for the efforts to bring the MSU College of Human Medicine to Grand Rapids and his vision for what has now evolved along the Medical Mile. I remember when I had just started my new job with MSU as Director of External Affairs and Peter invited me to a lunch that I think lasted two+ hours. During that time he shared the history of the efforts to bring the medical school to Grand Rapids, his passion to see that it was done right, and the vision for what he hoped it would result in. As he shared that there were tears in his eyes as he was filled with emotion about what the then-unbuilt Secchia Center named after him would mean to him. I will miss him, but I am SO thankful to have had him in my life and can only hope to continue to meet his high expectations for success. The Grand Rapids community and Spartan nation have lost a great visionary and cheerleader! My prayers for Joan and the entire Secchia family would feel God's comfort and peace, which transcends all human understanding." 
— Jerry Kooiman, Chief External Relations Officer and Assistant Dean, MSU College of Human Medicine

"Peter was an incredible Spartan and friend to the local West Michigan Spartans alumni club. Peter could always be found 'front and center' at our events... whether it was MSU Means Business!, the Spartan Winter Tailgate, or the GRPS Tailgate... Peter was there. His support and guidance for the Club will be missed. Getting to know Peter over the years was a tremendous gift and we will him and the Secchia family peace and comfort."
— Jerry Jonckheere, Board President, West Michigan Spartans

"As the immediate past President of the West Michigan Spartans, it was indeed a very sad day when I heard of Peters passing. We all know Peter’s passion and giving to his beloved Spartans but want transcends all is love and pride for for his family. I had the opportunity to witness this many times through numerous community and MSU events over the years. Peter was always about making “it better” for all. I will miss you Peter for the very candid conversations over the years. Thank you for being the ultimate “connector” of people and talent so that we could learn from each other to make “it better”. Your Spartan Spirit will continue to live in all of us. Spartans Will." 
— Scott Webb, Immediate Past President, West Michigan Spartans

"Yesterday was a sad day for Spartan Nation... we will never be the same. Peter Secchia was the force behind so much good at Michigan State University. He’s been the lead champion for us in the West Michigan community for more than 15 years, and his love for Spartan Athletics was second-to-none. He will be missed, there is no question. He certainly knew how to push each of us to do our best work and represent the University’s best foot forward! No other Spartan has influenced as much philanthropy, through personal investment and what he inspired others to do for his beloved alma mater and his community. He made me a better fundraiser, and I'll forever be grateful for all that he has done to shape MSU, the College of Human Medicine, and West Michigan. My deepest condolences to Joan and the entire Secchia family. Thank you for sharing Peter with us for all these years."
— Stephanie Stotenbur, Senior Director of Development, MSU College of Human Medicine

"Peter was a great man, and he lived as he believed was right. In business and philanthropy and politics he was a giant! He loved his family as well as his city and State. His friends are many all over the world. He was our family's mentor. He guided his family and imparted financial and worldly knowledge upon them. May we never forget his humour, his kindness, his generosity. Our prayers and love to Joan and all his family, and all the friends they love so dearly."
— Margaret and Robert Corrao & Family

"Peter Secchia was an awesome guy! Actually, he was much more than an awesome guy. He was inspirational! He brought the world a long list of wonderful accomplishments. Ideas that he realized were important and beneficial or idea's that others suggested and he would say, " I'm in. Let's get that done". His Spartan Spirit was always glowing brightly. He had terrific ideas, endless connections, and he was always ready to contribute a lead gift to insure that the goal would be met. His Spartan Spirit would inspire MSU Presidents, Coaches, Alumni, Athletes, and Students alike. What a wonderful guy! Rest in Peace, Peter...MSU will keep on creating ways to be all that you ever hoped it would be."
— Jim Williams Friend, Fellow Alumni, and Admirer