Ocean Beach 07

John S. Edison

March 8, 1934 ~ September 30, 2021 (age 87)

Obituary

John Simonson Edison, age 87, died peacefully at his home in West Olive, Michigan on September 30, 2021. John was born on March 8, 1934 to Haynes and Margaret Edison in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He graduated from the Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan where he was a three-sport athlete, playing baseball, basketball and football. John went on to play baseball and earn his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Dartmouth College and his Masters of Business Administration from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth in Hanover, New Hampshire. In 1956, John married Henrietta (Penny) Brown, fondly calling her “Lucky Penny” throughout their 65 years of marriage. But he always admitted he was really the fortunate one to have married her. They raised three sons, Lewis, Jeffrey and Paul, and moved around the country as John developed his stellar business career and used his business acumen to help numerous community organizations. John actually began his business career at a very young age. On hot summer days, he sold candy bars to employees of the family road-building firm L.W. Edison. Soon he was working for the company, shoveling asphalt during college summers and helping to build some of Michigan’s largest highways. After completing his education, John was hired by General Mills in 1957 and worked as an Industrial Sales Representative in the Chemical Division in Illinois, New York and Missouri. In the early 1960’s, John and Penny moved back to their hometown of Grand Rapids when John was asked by his family to help build the business of L.W. Edison. While serving as a partner in the firm, he became the first President of the Concrete Paving Association. In 1969, John received the “Outstanding Young Man of the Year” award from the Grand Rapids Junior Chamber of Commerce. He also served on the East Grand Rapids City Commission and the Kent County Road Commission. After more than a dozen years in road construction, John decided to take on a new business challenge, working in the field of community service. He became President of the Grand Valley State Colleges Foundation and Director of Development. He helped raise thousands of dollars for the fledgling school in Allendale, Michigan during his three-year fundraising tenure. Grand Valley State University now has an endowment of more than one hundred million dollars and serves more than twenty-four thousand students in the Grand Rapids area. In 1977, another business venture soon beckoned. John co-founded Corporate Funding, Inc., an equipment leasing company. And soon Inc. Magazine ranked Corporate Funding as one of the fastest growing companies in the United States. In 1982, John decided to sell his company to National Bank of Detroit. John spent the rest of his life as a private investor in apartment buildings, nursing homes, office buildings and shopping centers throughout the United States. John served on the Board of Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids for twenty five years. He also was the Co-chairman of the Centennial Challenge Building Fund Drive at Grand Rapids Fountain Street Church and a director for the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce, United Fund Community Services, Downtown Grand Rapids Rotary and the Economic Club of Grand Rapids. Along with his business career, John’s family was important to him. When his boys were young, he and Penny spent many weekends with them in a rustic cabin in the woods just outside Howard City, MIchigan, boating, fishing, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. And he regularly attended his three sons’ sporting events in high school and college. An athlete himself, John was an outstanding tennis player, winning many tournaments at his winter home in Lost Tree Village, North Palm Beach, Florida. Since the early 1980’s, John and Penny spent summers at their Lake Michigan home in West Olive, Michigan. They also enjoyed traveling around the world with close friends. John will forever be remembered for his wonderful sense of humor, his love of cigars and backgammon and his booming laugh that sometimes created trouble! John is predeceased by his parents, his brother William Edison and his oldest son Lewis Edison. He is survived by his wife Penny Edison, his sons Jeffrey (Leslie) Edison of Park City, Utah and Paul Edison of Rivera Beach, Florida and his daughter-in-law Suzanne Edison of Houston, Texas. He also leaves behind his sister-in-law Patricia Edison of Grand Rapids, two nephews and a niece, seven grandchildren — Parilee, Mitchell, Casey, Andrew, Caroline, Charlie and Victoria— and three great grandchildren. A Memorial Service celebrating John’s life will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the charity of your choice.

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