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Community mourns the loss of businessman and philanthropist John C. Canepa


John Canepa, one of Grand Rapids business leaders and philanthropists who help lead the charge reshaping the city skyline and rejuvenating the downtown business district has died. WGVU pays tribute.

Van Andel Arena, DeVos Place, The Meijer Majestic Theater, MSU Medical School and Grand Rapids Downtown Market are considered quality of life game changers advancing the city. They are projects spearheaded by Grand Action Committee co-chairs Dick DeVos, David Frey and John Canepa.

John Canepa knew a thing or two about business. He was named CEO of the Year by Financial World Magazine and recognized as Business Person of the Year by the Economic Club of Grand Rapids.

With his business acumen he built public-private partnerships securing projects built on trust and philanthropic financial support that have advanced Grand Rapids unlike most Midwestern cities. The director of the Michigan Economic Center pointing out the city is positioned to become a leader in emerging sectors.

A statement from Dick DeVos and David Frey reads, “It is with the heaviest of hearts that we bid farewell to a true giant of the greater Grand Rapids community. As fellow Grand Action Committee Co-Chairs over the past quarter century, John Canepa became an esteemed colleague and treasured friend to both of us. For 25 years his voluntary service to Grand Action not only changed our skyline, but fundamentally advanced a culture of collaboration which is now a hallmark of our community.”

Canepa served on the Board of the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority. He was director of the Grand Valley University Foundation and was a member of the Seidman College of Business Dean's Advisory Board and the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy committee. He was also a supporter of local arts and medical research.

John Canepa was 87-years old.

Patrick Center, WGVU News