Former U.S. Ambassador and West Michigan Businessman Secchia Dies
Former U.S. Ambassador to Italy, philanthropist, and successful Michigan businessman Peter Secchia passed away at the age of 83.
Following a short battle with COVID-19 and months of battling other health issues, Peter F. Secchia passed away in his home peacefully. Peter F. Secchia was born on April 15, 1937, in New Jersey, though he made Michigan his home.
A statement from his wife Joan Secchia read in part:
My family joins me in sharing the difficult news that Peter F. Secchia, our beloved husband, father and grandfather, passed away this morning at the age of 83. Throughout his life, Peter was firmly committed to his family, his business, his community and his country. His presence in all will be deeply missed.
Many leaders across Michigan, the U.S., and around the world also shared their thoughts on the passing of the political powerhouse and philanthropist:
We are deeply saddened by the loss of our great friend, Peter Secchia, and our hearts and prayers go out to Joan and their four children—Stephanie, Sandy, Charlie, and Mark. What a remarkable legacy Peter leaves behind. Whether he’s remembered as an entrepreneur rebuilding Grand Rapids, or as a philanthropist making life better for the people of Michigan, or as a counselor having the President’s ear, or as an ambassador bridging connections to Italy, Peter made things happen. He was bigger than life. Everything he did, he did with gusto. Just look at how he was devoted to his family, generous to his friends, fierce in his beliefs, and unwavering in his support for the causes he held dear.
Peter and our dad first met back in 1964, during one of our dad’s congressional campaigns, and it seems he’s been part of our family ever since. Dad and Mom treasured his playful sense of humor, good counsel, and abiding friendship; also the good-natured rivalry between a Spartan and a Wolverine. Our family will miss Peter. We will remember his generous spirit and be inspired by his determination to make everything he touched better than he found it.
Thank you, Peter, for letting us share in your wonderful life and journey.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. ~ The Ford Family and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation
For decades Ambassador Peter Secchia has been a powerful supporter of the Michigan Republican Party, Republican candidates and our causes. It is so appropriate that his name is on our building because he epitomizes the kind of strength and fight that everyone in our Party should have for the causes they believe in. His generosity and philanthropy extend beyond politics which is clear when you look around at all of the wonderful work he did for organizations and efforts across the State and his enthusiasm for those efforts was unmatched. ~Michigan Republican Party Chairman Laura Cox
Peter served as a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps 1956-1959. Peter earned a degree in economics from Michigan State University in 1963.
Secchia was a fund-raiser in the Republican Party in Michigan. He started as chairman of the Kent County, Michigan Republican Committee and later became the chairman of the 5th Congressional District of Michigan committee. He was elected to be Michigan's Republican National Committeeman in 1980, 1984, and 1988. Secchia was a Vice Chairman of the Republican National Committee and headed its Midwest Region. He was host chairman of the 1985 RNC Midwest Leadership Conference in Grand Rapids. Secchia was on the national advisory committee of the 1988 George Bush for President Committee. Secchia also founded the Lake Michigan Conference and was a National Co-Chair of the Dole for President Campaign.
From 1989 to 1993 Peter served as the United States Ambassador to Italy and San Marino. As an ambassador, he received numerous awards from the Republic of Italy and the U.S. State Department. Secchia served as the CEO and chairman of the board of Universal Forest Products. In 1994 he was appointed to chair the Secchia Commission I by former Michigan Governor John Engler which was focused on improving government services. Secchia Commission II later focused on public sector pensions. He was instrumental in helping Michigan State University move a medical school to Grand Rapids.