John Canepa: 2010 Jack Chaille Community Philanthropy Award Winner

Grand Rapids Community Foundation awards its Jack Chaille Community Philanthropy Award to John Canepa on October 29 at its annual donor event.  Canepa is the retired president of Old Kent Bank (now 5/3 Bank). Not one to completely retire, he works as a consultant at Crowe Horwath.

Originally from Boston, he and his wife Marie never intended to stay in Grand Rapids beyond his tenure as President of Old Kent. But during the years he served the bank (from 1972 to 1995) Grand Rapids grew on them. As retirement approached in 1995, they couldn’t imagine leaving. “I can’t imagine Grand Rapids without John Canepa,” said Diana Sieger, President of Grand Rapids Community Foundation. “He’s been a force behind so many successful projects here. He is someone other community leaders count on to help get things done. His involvement is a commitment,” she said.  John helped support the Community Foundation’s Building Community Philanthropy campaign by serving on the campaign cabinet and is a long-time donor to the Foundation.

Canepa is probably most well known for being one of the leaders behind the start up and success of Grand Action. He, Dick DeVos and David Frey served as founding co-chairs of the organization in 1993 as it transitioned from Grand Vision. Canepa still works with Grand Action. Among the many projects that Grand Action has brought to fruition since its founding are: DeVos Place, VanAndel Arena, Grand Rapids Civic Theatre’s renovation and the Michigan State University School of Human Medicine. Currently Grand Action is exploring the feasibility of an urban market in the Heartside area.

Canepa has a long association with the Humane Society of Kent County and in honor of his Chaille Award for Community Philanthropy; a gift was made to the Humane Society in his name.

The Jack Chaille Community Philanthropy Award is given each year to a couple or individual who embody the enthusiastic passion for the Community Foundation and the community as did William Jackson Chaille, the (now deceased) President and Chair of the Board of the Rospatch Corporation for whom the award is named.

Past recipients include:

Jack Chaille; James Carpenter; Dirk Hoffius; Sam Kravitz; Pat Edison; Richard Gillett, Sr.; Shirley Daniels; Chuck and Stella Royce; David Frey; Fred and Lena Meijer; Tom and Mickie Fox; Claudia and Allan Carlson.