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DeVos family unveils statue of philanthropist

July 24, 2019
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Peter Secchia statue reveal Millennium Park Secchia with cane
Peter Secchia, foreground, at the unveiling of the statue of him at Millennium Park. Courtesy Jim Hill

The DeVos family and Kent County have unveiled a statue honoring the local philanthropist who was a driving force behind creating West Michigan’s largest urban park.

A statue of Peter Secchia — philanthropist, former chair and CEO of Grand Rapids-based Universal Forest Products and former U.S. ambassador to Italy — was unveiled yesterday at The Meadows, which is part of the 1,400-acre Millennium Park in Walker, at 1415 Maynard Ave. SW.

The statue was commissioned by Rich and Helen DeVos to honor Peter Secchia for his “vision, leadership and support” for Millennium Park, as well as for the “tremendous impact he and (his wife) Joan have had on our community,” according to Sam Moore, executive director, Kent County Parks Foundation.

“Without Peter Secchia, there would not be a Millennium Park. He was the driving force behind the public-private partnership that built the magnificent Millennium Park and a tireless champion for it,” Moore said.

The statue features Secchia wearing a hoodie emblazoned with the logo of his alma mater, Michigan State University. He is depicted with two children at play and is holding a sheaf of papers held together by a binder clip to represent the loose papers he is known for carrying with him.

The DeVos family began planning the tribute in 2010, but the project stalled. Robert Hooker, chairman and CEO of C&H Holding and former director of the Grand Valley University Foundation, helped revive the effort in 2015.

Brett Grill sculpted the statue.

RDV Corporation, the DeVos family firm based in downtown Grand Rapids, did not release the cost of the statue.

The statue dedication was originally planned for last September in conjunction with the Kent County Parks Foundation’s annual fundraiser, but it was postponed when Rich DeVos died just days before the event.

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