Casey Wondergem - GR's strongest supporter!
June 2nd, 2010About 25 years ago I met Casey Wondergem prior to being hired to lead the Grand Rapids Community Foundation and learned quickly that he really wrote the book on how "this community works!" He was not dictatorial in his manner and had the insight and drive necessary to move ideas and projects forward that others wouldn't have spent the time to do. In other words, once he took on a major project, he saw it through to its successful completion without hesitation.
Casey passed away yesterday and he will be sorely missed. How can it be that the vibrant, opinionated yet kind man who was "lecturing" me just 10 years ago be gone? He joined the community foundation board in 1992 and immediately questioned everything we did but in a constructive fashion. Other trustees would chew on what he said and suddenly new energy would emerge as ideas whirled around the table!
Casey was that kind of leader. Planting seeds and sowing them and before too long great things would emerge and grow! Working with him not only when he was a GRCF trustee but also when he chaired the Regional Issues Committee of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce when Milt Rohwer was its Executive Director, was watching a dynamo in full action!
He was an unabashed champion of downtown Grand Rapids and was never apologetic about it. Casey sometimes was out in front but most often was leading the behind the scenes work to provide a platform for strength and growth. He helped lead and guide many a philanthropic effort and he loved to see the fruits of his labor and vision! He simply loved this community!
Casey's sense of humor, keen observations and decisive actions are all hallmarks of his leadership! This community will miss him - the Grand Rapids Community Foundation will miss him - I will miss him.