Friday, November 27, 2020

Former US ambassador, MSU donor Peter Secchia dies at age 83

October 21, 2020
<p>MSU alumnus Ambassador Peter Secchia, center, talks in 2011 with football head coach Mark Dantonio, left, and basketball head coach Tom Izzo Saturday afternoon at the dedication of Secchia Stadium. Secchia donated a significant amount to the softball stadium which was named in his honor.</p>

MSU alumnus Ambassador Peter Secchia, center, talks in 2011 with football head coach Mark Dantonio, left, and basketball head coach Tom Izzo Saturday afternoon at the dedication of Secchia Stadium. Secchia donated a significant amount to the softball stadium which was named in his honor.

Photo by Matt Hallowell | The State News

Longtime MSU donor, MSU alumnus and former US ambassador Peter F. Secchia has died.

Secchia, was surrounded by his family when he died, a spokesperson for the family confirmed to WOOD-TV8 in Grand Rapids on the afternoon of Oct. 21.

He was 83 and was born in Demarest, New Jersey in 1937. Secchia was a philanthropist, figure in Republican politics, West Michigan businessman and longtime donor to MSU and MSU Athletics.

“Secchia was a tremendous Spartan who loved his alma mater,” MSU Athletic Director Bill Beekman said in a statement. "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.”

Secchia was a graduate of MSU, member of the class of 1963. Afterwards in 1989 Secchia was appointed to US Ambassador of Italy, a role he served in until 1993.

“I am very saddened to hear the news on the passing of Peter Secchia,” MSU Men's Basketball coach Tom Izzo said in a release. “He and his wife, Joan, have been incredible friends to me, Lupe and my family.”

Per a report from The Detroit News, Secchia was diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus shortly before his death.

His legacy at Michigan State is long-lasting, Secchia's name is attached to the MSU women's softball field and the MSU College of Human Medicine's Grand Rapids campus.

My thoughts are with Joan and the Secchia family on the passing of Ambassador Secchia," MSU Softball Coach Jacquie Joseph said in a statement. His love for MSU and our softball program is obvious as our beautiful stadium bears his name — a symbol of his generosity which will live on for years.”

A building that was erected in 2000 at the downtown Pew Campus of Grand Valley State University, Secchia Hall, is named in his honor.

But his life reached well beyond the state of Michigan, after graduating with a degree in economics from MSU, Secchia turned to a career with Universal Forest Products where he worked for more than 50 years starting with a sales position all the way to company president.

“What I will miss most about Peter is the loyal support he gave me,” Izzo said. “He was someone I turned to over the years when I was making important life decisions, both personal and professional.  I feel like today I have lost a true friend and mentor and my heart breaks for Joan, their children, Mark, Stephanie, Sandy and Charlie, and the Secchia family. We have all benefitted from their generosity to Michigan State Athletics and they have helped us grow into a national power. Peter Secchia was one of the most giving men I have ever known, to our country, to our state, to Grand Rapids and, of course, to his beloved alma mater, Michigan State.”

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