Remembering Ken Betz

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We celebrate the life and mourn the loss of Ken Betz, a beloved partner and friend of Grand Rapids Community Foundation.

For many years, Ken Betz put his heart into giving back. A humble and kind man, his generosity and care for others created and improved opportunities for many people in our community. In 2020, Ken said that his inspiration to give came from his parents, who taught him that with success comes responsibility. As a result, his philanthropy has focused on education and providing opportunities for women, children and families who have not had the prospects he did.

“I've gone through my life knowing there are people who want to succeed and don’t necessarily have the means to,” Ken said. “If we can be of some kind of aid to those people, that's what we intend to be.”

The Betz family were early supporters of Challenge Scholars, a Community Foundation program that ensures students who stay on track and graduate from Union High School will attend college or technical training tuition-free. Like each Challenge Scholar, Ken graduated from Union High School. He valued that Challenge Scholars cultivates a college and career mindset that includes highlighting trade professions, which he saw firsthand and valued because of the family foundry business.

Ken’s late wife Judy, who passed away in 2017, was a central partner in establishing the family’s philanthropic priorities. The Community Foundation recognized Ken and Judy with the Jack Chaille Community Philanthropy Award in 2016 (watch the video honoring them). In his marriage to Pat Brewer, Ken’s giving and partnership with the Community Foundation continued and deepened. With an enthusiastic spirit, the couple have supported many organizations and community efforts. Read the article from our 2019-2020 Annual Report.

Diana Sieger and Jonse Young shared these thoughts about Ken:

"Ken was a one-of-a-kind partner and friend. An amazing man with a big heart, he was so concerned about our community and world. He definitely did his part, and beyond, to make an impact on the lives of so many! We personally appreciate and will cherish the time we spent with Ken and his family."

Read more about Ken in this family obituary: Ken Betz

If you are interested in making a gift in his memory, we are honored to accept memorial donations at