Edward “Ted” John Frey, Jr., age 77, of Ada passed away peacefully at his home on April 11, 2022, surrounded by his loving family. He was a beloved father, son, husband and brother.
An entrepreneur, business and real estate developer, philanthropist, family man and animal lover, Ted Frey made an indelible impact on communities in west and northern Michigan.
Ted was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan on April 26, 1944, the son of Edward J. Frey, Sr. and Frances “Tallie” M. (Taliaferro) Frey. After graduating from Ottawa Hills High School where he played basketball, Ted attended Grand Rapids Community College and Grand Valley State College (GVSU). He began his career working at Foremost Insurance Company and Union Bank & Trust Company. Ted then spent nearly two years in South America working for World Bank where he provided agricultural lending and worked to develop high yield crops and boost irrigation. Upon returning to Grand Rapids, he honed his skills as a real estate developer, working on several development projects in downtown Grand Rapids.
In 1979, Ted along with his wife Elizabeth, moved their family to Harbor Springs. He brought with him a sharp mind for numbers and entrepreneurial spirit and continued developing businesses and real estate in northern Michigan. Having been involved in the brick and block business in Grand Rapids and Detroit, he founded Emmet Brick and Block in Petoskey, a business that still thrives today.
Ted enjoyed a simple quiet life surrounded by the beauty of northern Michigan’s landscape and the crystal-clear waters of Lake Michigan and Little Traverse Bay. It was there that he took up golf. His passion for the game sparked a vision that resulted in the design, development and construction of Little Traverse Bay Golf Club & Restaurant, a hidden gem nestled among the hills overlooking the panoramic views of Little Traverse Bay. The golf course and restaurant operated for three decades before Ted sold the property.
An avid sailor, Ted competed in numerous Chicago-to-Mackinaw and Port Huron-to Mackinaw races and spent countless hours sailing the beautiful waters off Petoskey and Harbor Springs.
Ted treasured time with his current wife of 26 years, Brenda, as well as his children, grandchildren and dogs. He loved to travel with Brenda, and they explored many places around the world. He had a passion for all animals, but in particular dogs. He was instrumental in establishing a veterinary clinic at Little Traverse Bay Humane Society, a no-kill animal shelter. While it is often said that dog is mans’ best friend, it was apparent that Ted was also dogs’ best friend.
Ted had recently sold his home in Harbor Springs to return to his birthplace of Grand Rapids and purchased a home in nearby Ada. Ted and Brenda also have a home in south Florida where they have spent the past 27 winters enjoying the warm weather and sunshine.
Ted was a loving and compassionate man intensely focused on community, diversity, philanthropy and education. With a deep sense of humanity and a generous spirit, he was actively involved in the communities of Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Charlevoix and Grand Rapids. He constantly fought for equal housing, education, employment and health care opportunities for all. He was a quiet mentor to many and believed in fostering the potential of others. He silently worked behind the scenes as he developed projects to better serve the communities he loved.
The Petoskey Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation, The Little Traverse Bay Conservancy, The Dyslexia Center, Little Traverse Bay Humane Society and Dental Clinics North are just a few of the many organizations Ted was involved in. Most recently, he worked with North Central Michigan College in Petoskey where he helped develop a plan to provide quality, high tech education to students and to provide continuing education for all regardless of age, race, ethnicity or economic status.
Ted served for decades as a trustee, treasurer, chairman and investment committee member of the Frey Foundation based in Grand Rapids. For more information regarding Ted’s grant making and leadership roles within the foundation, please click here: https://freyfdn.org/ted-frey
Ted’s commitment to service and love for his family and community continued through his final days. His spirit and legacy will live on, and he will be truly missed by those who knew and loved him and those whose lives he touched.
Ted is survived by his wife, Brenda, and his faithful chocolate lab, Henry. Also surviving are three daughters, Mary E. Frey Bennett (Richard) of Gainesville, FL, Cynthia A. Frey of Harbor Springs, MI and Sarah R. Frey of Harbor Springs, MI; six grandchildren, Luke, Eric and Emma Bennett, Grant and Grace Rose and Laura Young; three siblings, Mary “Twink” C. Frey of Grand Rapids, MI, John M. Frey (Hildi) of Charlevoix, MI, and David G. Frey (Judy) of Grand Rapids, MI; and several nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his daughter, Barbara C. Frey, and grandson, Parker W. Rose.
A celebration of Ted’s life will be held 3:00pm on Monday May 9, 2022 at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in the Huizenga Grand Room. A reception will immediately follow until 6:00pm.
In lieu of flowers, please consider the following memorials in Ted’s honor:
Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Foundation
616 Petoskey Street, Suite 203
Petoskey, MI 49770
Grand Rapids Community College Foundation
143 Bostwick Avenue, NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503