In memory of Esther Padnos – Grand Valley Lanthorn


The Grand Valley State University community joined West Michigan in mourning the death of philanthropist Esther Padnos on Dec. 19, 2021, at age 93.

A native of Grand Rapids, Padnos has touched the lives of those around him through his efforts and support of GVSU.

Arend Lubbers, Chairman Emeritus of GVSU, said the light she emanated will be missed by the community.

“Esther’s gentle and compassionate nature, and her genuine interest in helping students and others in West Michigan, have marked her as one of the region’s philanthropic leaders,” Lubbers said. “We will always remember her with gratitude.”

Padnos was passionate about providing advancement opportunities for science, engineering, and math students in West Michigan. Along with her late husband, Seymour K. Padnos, Esther’s philanthropic efforts led to the establishment of GVSU’s Padnos Hall of Science and the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing.

Padnos has also dedicated her time to addressing the national nursing shortage. In 2007, she established the Esther R. Padnos Nursing Scholarship. This scholarship has enabled many GVSU students in the Accelerated Nursing Program to overcome financial barriers and complete their studies.

Over the many years of Esther and Seymour’s support through the Esther and Seymour Padnos Foundation, GVSU has been able to significantly expand its STEM programs, accelerating the regional pipeline of talent for these fields.

Padnos received an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from GVSU in 1996 for his support of the university and the greater Grand Rapids community. She also received the Grand Steward Award at the Annual Enrichment Dinner in 2011 for her significant leadership and service to GVSU.

“Esther’s loyal support of Grand Valley students for over 30 years has changed the lives of thousands of students,” President Philomena V. Mantella wrote in a Tweet. “She will be remembered as an important part of our history, with a legacy that will stretch far into the future. She will be missed.

The Esther and Seymour Padnos Foundation has also supported Hadassah (a religious women’s organization), the Michigan Maritime Museum, Indian Trails Camps, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation and others.

In addition to this, Padnos was a member of Temple Emanuel in Grand Rapids for over 70 years.

Besides being so involved in her community, Padnos was also a mother and a grandmother.

She had four children, Mitchell, Shelly, Bill and Cindy and a grandson, Louis. The legacy of the Padnos family continued, as their charitable donations enabled the formation of the International Padnos Center, the Padnos/Sarosik Center for Civil Discourse, and the Padnos Student Gallery.

Their support has also extended to supporting the greater Grand Rapids area through charitable goals such as finding shelter for the homeless, feeding the hungry, protecting the abused, helping those at risk and helping to important human interest causes for PADNOS inc. Members of the team.

The family requests that donations in memory of Padnos be made to the Temple Emanuel Padnos Building Maintenance Fund, Esther Padnos Nursing Scholarship at GVSU, or the charity of your choice.


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