Beloved community philanthropist, Ralph Hauenstein, passes away

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Ralph Hauenstein passed away at the age of 103 years old Sunday.

President Gerald Ford and Ralph Hauenstein (Courtesy of The Hauenstein Center/GVSU)

President Gerald Ford and Ralph Hauenstein (Courtesy of The Hauenstein Center/GVSU)

“Dad’s energy to keep the family together will be missed by all of us,” his son Ralph David said in a press release, “He was dedicated to making certain his family gathered at every momentous occasion… holidays, birthdays, baptisms and first communions, and much more.”

Hauenstein, a resident of Grand Rapids since 1930, has been a fixture of the city for years. A World War II veteran and an Editor for the city newspaper,

Hauenstein later contributed to the city as a philanthropist.

His philanthropic efforts have been seen higher education institutions across West Michigan. He founded the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University, in hopes to inspire a new generation of leaders in the world of public service. While Aquinas College is home to the Grace Hauenstein Library.

Hauenstein didn’t stop at education, as he gave back to the field of medicine as well. He contributed $2 million dollars to Saint Mary’s Health Care to jumpstart a campaign to create the Saint Mary’s Hauenstein Parkinson’s Center, which is now one of the leaders in the fig

ht against the disease. Hauenstein also served as one of three board members who helped establish the Van Andel Institute for Medical Research.

Bishop David Walkowiak of the Diocese of Grand Rapids issued this statement regarding the death of Hauenstein:

“I am saddened to learn of Mr. Hauenstein’s passing. For more than a century, he has had profound impact upon our Catholic Church both locally and internationally. He was an active layman, working as an auditor at the Second Vatican Council. In West Michigan, Mr. Hauenstein founded the Grand Rapids Serra Club, helping to provide support for men who are interested in pursuing the priesthood. He was a longtime member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, which supports the Christian presence in the Holy Land. In 2013, he was awarded the Silver Palm of Jerusalem for his extraordinary service to the Order. Mr. Hauenstein is an inspiration to us all as someone who lived and practiced his Catholic faith. He will be truly missed. May Mr. Hauenstein rest in eternal peace and enjoy the fullness of the glory of the Lord he served.”

According to a release, funeral arrangements for Hauenstein are pending. They will be announced in the next few days.

He was just three months shy of his 104th birthday.

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