Street Talk

Street Talk: A Rolls Royce of a philanthropist

Color of money.

June 26, 2015
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The death of one of Grand Rapids’ patron saints of the arts is being felt throughout the community.

Charles Lund Royce died June 20. He recently celebrated his 90th birthday at St. Cecilia Music Center surrounded by hundreds of well-wishers, family, friends, artists, students and others from a wide range of organizations whose lives he touched through his philanthropy and community involvement.

A memorial service will take place 11 a.m., Monday, June 29, at St. Cecilia Music Center, 24 Ransom Ave. NE. Visitation with the family begins at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in his memory to St. Cecilia Music Center’s Annual Fund.

Royce’s parents, Fred and Maria Lund Royce, founded the Royce Rolls Ringer Co. in 1925 shortly after Chuck was born. While in the hospital for his delivery, his mother complained about the screeching sound the housekeepers’ buckets made as they were dragged along the floor and she suggested to her husband they be put on “rollers.” Since the family name was Royce, and rolling buckets with wringers were the principal offerings, the name “Royce Rolls Ringer” was chosen for the enterprise.

Chuck and his wife, Stella, eventually took over the business, and their two sons, Matthew and Charlie, joined them in leadership roles after college.

Chuck’s family traces its involvement in the St. Cecilia Music Society to 1913, when his grandmother, Mrs. Matthew Lund, and her daughter, Maria (Chuck’s mother), became members. Chuck grew up roaming the halls and tunnels of the St. Cecilia building with his brother while his mother attended committee meetings and concerts. Since then, five generations of Royce family members have participated in its programs.

“Chuck Royce literally spent his entire life knowing St. Cecilia Music Center. We are all overwhelmingly saddened by the loss of one our most important and beloved patrons and supporters,” said Cathy Holbrook, executive director.

“Chuck and Stella Royce are referred to as the patron saints of St. Cecilia Music Center, and St. Cecilia wouldn’t be what it is today without them. The immense impact that Chuck Royce had on this organization is commemorated in the naming of Royce Auditorium, which will be his family’s legacy in the building forever. Chuck helped bring others into St. Cecilia with his contagious enthusiasm for our mission and programs. He was most definitely our biggest fan.”

The Royces supported a large variety of West Michigan arts organizations including Grand Rapids Symphony, Grand Rapids Ballet, Michigan Ballet Academy, Opera Grand Rapids, Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, Girls Choral Academy, Choir of Men and Boys, Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, Grand Rapids Art Museum and Grandville Avenue Arts and Humanities.

“The legacy of Chuck Royce lies in his passion for our community and his relentless positive attitude that he has instilled in everyone he meets about the future of Grand Rapids. His love for bringing people together to enjoy the best in life should make headlines,” said Diana Sieger, executive director of Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

Royce was among a group of distinct influencers in Grand Rapids. He, along with his recently deceased friends, Fred Meijer, Peter Cook and Peter Wege, together with other prominent generous donors including Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel, shared a vision for West Michigan and made an everlasting mark on the city.

“Peter Wege and Chuck Royce grew up as neighbors and, through the years, I heard many stories surrounding their boyish antics, always accompanied by much laughter and ribbing,” said Ellen Satterlee of The Wege Foundation. “I will remember Chuck Royce as one of Peter Wege’s truest friends. They were kindred spirits in generosity, kindness and patriotism.”

Book club

It certainly can be said Kent District Library is ahead of other libraries in the state.

KDL recently earned Quality Leadership Navigator recognition from Michigan Performance Excellence (formerly Michigan Quality Council). The intermediate level assessment recognizes KDL’s sustained commitment to continuous improvement and is the next step in KDL’s multi-year effort to document its performance in an effort to strengthen the quality of service provided to its community.

“We’re honored to be the first library in the state to receive this recognition and we look forward to continuing our journey toward quality excellence,” said Brian Mortimore, director of human resources and organizational development.

KDL sought feedback from Michigan Performance Excellence, a third-party organization, to ensure patrons are getting the most for their tax dollars. KDL is being evaluated on leadership, strategic planning, customer focus, workforce focus and operational focus.

KDL is the first public library to engage in the process of achieving recognition from the organization.

Crime stoppers

The Rental Property Owners Association of Kent County and Grand Rapids Police Department are teaming to fight crime with the creation of the Landlord Crime Prevention Certification Program.

The semi-annual, three-hour workshop will provide landlords with information and resources to proactively prevent illegal activity at their properties.

The first program is scheduled for 9 a.m.-noon, Tuesday, June 30, in the RPOA training room, 1459 Michigan St. NE.

“Owning properties in low-crime or crime-free neighborhoods results in less property damage, longer tenancies and enhanced profitability,” said Clay Powell, executive director of RPOA.

Program topics will include tenant screening and evictions, leveraging neighborhood crime prevention programs, working with police, and using environmental and architectural standards to reduce crime.

“One of the most effective ways to eliminate crime in a neighborhood is through the collaboration between citizens, landlords and the police,” said GRPD community police officer Neil Gomez. “While the police department and other government agencies have important roles to play in crime prevention, local citizens, neighborhood associations, real estate investors and landlords can make the biggest impact.”

Money matters

Community leaders are meeting today at Ottawa Hills High School as part of an event called Community Conversation: Financially Empowering the Black Community, which also features a Black Business Expo.

The expo features 40 African-American businesses sharing their contributions to thecommunity, job openings and Southern cuisine. The conversation will focus on spending money in the African-American community.

Eugene Mitchell, vice president and African-American market manager for New York Life, and Maggie Anderson, author and creator of the Empowerment Experiment, are the guest speakers.

Event organizer Renee Johnson expects more than 500 people to attend.

“I learned how the black community collectively spends $1.1 trillion but was not growing and how we are at a disadvantage. I could not keep this a secret, so then the community collaborative was created. This event is a huge opportunity for all of us to share our passions and our pride in our race,” Johnson said.

The expo is scheduled for 5-6 p.m., with the community conversation commencing at 7:30 p.m.

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