On Sept. 11, Bill Seidman's family and the leadership of the fine university he founded near his birthplace in western Michigan, held a memorial service celebrating the life and accomplishments of this remarkable renaissance man.
Grand Valley State University is a short drive from the Gerald R. Ford International Airport of Grand Rapids. In 1974 Bill answered President Ford's call, came to Washington and successfully organized the administration of a new president confronting a major constitutional crisis and a weakening economy.
Some 15 years later he returned to Washington as the chairman of the FDIC and then the first head of the Resolution Trust Corp., leading our nation through the savings and loan crisis that threatened the financial system.
It was fitting that the memorial service was held in the Louis Armstrong Theatre of the Performing Arts Center of Grand Valley State University. Bill loved music. It was fitting that celebrators of his life, led by his large family, walked past an "honor guard" of students of the business school on the way to the reception at the student center. There was a sampling of the seafood that Bill loved to catch, cook and eat.
At the service, it was fitting and deeply moving when the Grand Valley State University Brass Quintet played the Navy Hymn ("Eternal Father Strong to Save") in honor of Bill's service in the Pacific during World War II, for which he was awarded a Bronze Star. He was no stranger to the bloodiest battles in the Pacific theater, including Iwo Jima.
It was also fitting that a founding member of CNBC honored Bill's services as a chief commentator and educator as the 21st century dawned.
It was special when the president of the university announced that Richard M. DeVos, co-founder of what became Amway, will finance the building of a new Seidman center to better house the Seidman College of Business, whose mission statement directs "a rigorous learning environment, with a student focus, a regional commitment, and a global perspective."
DeVos, a longtime friend of Bill's, then rose and remembered their long relationship and honored Bill's beloved partner and wife of more than 60 years, Sally Seidman.
The service began on the high note of the Grand Valley Varsity Men singing "High Hopes" — the attitude that shaped Bill Seidman's life. But let's let Bill explain how he worked to win support for this new university (and the so many other endeavors of his life): "I would come in and I would take out what we used to call a recording machine, and I would play 'High Hopes.' You know, the song 'High Hopes,' about the ant moving a rubber plant tree." So many rubber plant trees were successfully moved during Bill's 88-year life.
The memorial service ended with Tom Seidman, Bill's eldest son, bidding farewell to his father for his family and for all whose lives Bill touched and enriched.