Remembering David Frey


Please click here to view the obituary for David Frey.

Celebration of Life

A celebration of life was held on Wednesday, June 28 at Kent Country Club.

An iconic, stalwart community leader and of the Frey Foundation (foundation), David G. Frey, passed away at his home in East Grand Rapids, Michigan on June 14, 2023. He was 81 years old.

David’s parents, Edward J. and Frances T. Frey, established the foundation in 1974, and David and his siblings dutifully organized and governed the family enterprise that would become a steadfast partner and grantmaker in both West and Northern Michigan. As the long-serving Board Chair of the Frey Foundation (2002–2016), David led with conviction, passion and the belief that public-private partnerships were imperative to drive transformational community change and impact. The relationships and initiatives that David cultivated in the philanthropic and economic development space are wide and deep.

David seamlessly knitted together his foundation leadership and influence with his ability to bring the right people to the table for the right project at the right time. David also insisted that the foundation be accessible and transparent to those seeking funding. He maintained that the foundation’s impact does not come exclusively from its grantmaking; hence its critical role as a community convener, thought partner and advocate for all.

David’s visionary work in leading transformational projects, spearheaded by Grand Action, put Grand Rapids on the trajectory to be a world class, mid-sized city. David knew that thriving cities need certain ingredients—comprehensive medical care, institutions of higher education, housing for all incomes, entertainment options that would fuel a robust urban core, support networks for families and children and public art that can be touched and experienced. Recently, David was named Chairman Emeritus of Grand Action 2.0.

The Trustees and staff of the Frey Foundation are deeply saddened by David’s passing. We have all learned a great deal from David and recognize that his ability to spark interest and progress around community projects has been and always will be a hallmark of the work that we do. We will miss David’s presence in the office . As a banker at heart, he was always impeccably dressed.

You can stand on any corner in Grand Rapids and see the vision and work of David Frey. As we mourn the loss of and friend, we are grateful for the continued leadership of his sons, Tripp and Cam. Bravo for a life well-lived—onward!