Former Grand Rapids Community Foundation Trustee and Board Chair (1998-1999) Casey Wondergem died June 1. “Casey was a good-hearted and forthright individual. He loved Grand Rapids and was devoted to doing work that made the community a better place to live and do business,” said Diana Sieger, President of Grand Rapids Community Foundation.
Before his retirement Casey was Executive Director of the Jay and Betty Van Andel Foundation. Previously, he served as the Van Andel Institute’s Vice President for Communications and Development.
Prior to joining the Institute, in 2000, Casey spent 21 years with Amway Corporation as Director of Public Relations and as Senior Public Affairs Counsel for corporate contributions and corporate sponsorships throughout the world. Casey was an editorial assistant to Jay Van Andel in the publishing of his autobiography “An Enterprising Life,” which listed on the Wall Street Journal Best Sellers list for 11 weeks.
Casey was born and raised in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and graduated from Calvin College. After serving in the U.S. Air Force, he managed the Centennial of the Christian Reformed Church in 1957. He established his own public relations and fundraising firm in Grand Rapids, where he worked with a variety of politicians including Congressman VanderJagt, Congressman Sawyer, Governor Romney and Governor Milliken.
For 10 years Casey was public relations consultant to John Rollins of Wilmington, Delaware and split his time between Grand Rapids and Montego Bay, Jamaica, where he was Director of Public Relations for Rose Hall Plantation, which included two resort hotels, condominiums and golf courses.
Casey served on numerous boards and committees in Grand Rapids. He established the Pine Rest Hospital Foundation and was a founder of Grand Valley State University Foundation.
Casey and his late wife Violet leave behind son Tim and daughter-in-law Kris, and three grandchildren Kasey Jean, Billy and Charlie. After Violet’s death in 2008, the family established a scholarship fund at the Community Foundation for students pursuing health science education.