Remembering Ted Frey


Please click here to view the obituary for Ted Frey.

Celebration of Life

A celebration of Ted’s life and legacy was held on Monday, May 9 at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

A steady and committed leader and Trustee at the Frey Foundation, Edward “Ted” J. Frey, Jr., passed away after a courageous battle with cancer on Monday, April 11 at his home in Ada, Michigan. He was 77 years old.

Ted’s parents, Edward and Frances Frey, established the foundation in 1974, but it was Ted and his siblings who were tasked with forming the family enterprise that would become a steadfast grantmaker in both West and Northern Michigan. As the long-serving Treasurer and Secretary of the Frey Foundation, Ted led with attention to detail and an astute belief that foundations and nonprofits are businesses and should be held to the highest standards of moral and financial acumen.

As a grantmaker, Ted understood that complex community issues cannot be solved overnight, and he embraced steady, meaningful change towards sustainable outcomes. He often referred to the complex world of supporting community through grants as “sausage making.” Clearly understanding that the work of changing social structures and helping people reach their full potential is messy—but always worth it. Ted was a keen advocate of collaboration—so much so that it has become a solid tenet of who we are and how we do our work at the Frey Foundation.

One of the areas that Ted was most proud of was the work that the foundation is doing to help address the lack of housing for people at all income levels. Ted believed that no one could thrive without a place to call home that they could afford—a place to rest, feel safe, establish traditions and care for family. Ted was determined to ensure that the foundation play a meaningful role in removing the structural barriers that impede progress in this work.

While Ted was a visible champion in the nonprofit sector through his leadership at the Frey Foundation, he was a quiet leader in other ways. Having lived in Harbor Springs for 40 years, Ted was instrumental in launching the Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation. His personal giving was often done without fanfare and always aimed at giving hope, promoting healing, building capacity, and supporting organizational growth through innovation.

The Trustees and staff of the Frey Foundation are deeply saddened by Ted’s passing. We will forever be grateful for Ted’s leadership, commitment to community and humble approach to philanthropy—which he often reminded us was just a fancy word for loving all of mankind and promoting the welfare of others. We will miss his hugs, laughter, and the way he could fill a room with his presence. What we still have is the impact he made on our organization and the communities it serves and the commitment of his daughters and grandchildren to continue the Frey legacy. As Ted would say…the beat goes on.