Charles (Chuck) Royce Passes Away at the age of 90
One of Grand Rapids’ longtime and dedicated leaders, Charles (Chuck) Lund Royce, passed away peacefully on Saturday, June 20, 2015. He recently celebrated his 90th birthday at St. Cecilia Music Center surrounded by hundreds of well-wishers, family, friends, artists, students and others from a wide range of organizations whose lives he touched through his philanthropy and community involvement.
Chuck’s parents founded the Royce Rolls Ringer Company in 1925 shortly after Chuck was born. While in the hospital for his delivery, his mother complained about the screeching sound that the housekeepers’ buckets made as they were dragged along the floor and she suggested to her husband that they be put on “rollers.” Since the family name was Royce, and rolling buckets with wringers were their principal offerings, the name “Royce Rolls Ringer” was chosen for their enterprise.
Chuck graduated from Central High School, Grand Rapids Junior College (now Grand Rapids Community College), and received a Mechanical Engineering degree from Marquette University. He attended Midshipman School in Fort Schuyler, NY and served on the USS Elkhart before returning to Grand Rapids and the family business.
Chuck met Stella Allen in 1953 and they married a few weeks later. For decades, Chuck and Stella worked with a loyal group of employees to build up the Royce Rolls Ringer Company, while raising their four children- Martha, Matthew, Maria and Charlie. Matthew and Charlie began working at the business early on, cleaning floors and making deliveries. Following college, they grew into leadership roles, eventually allowing Chuck and Stella to retire.
The Royce family had a deep love of music- all four Royce children studied piano and other instruments. Early in their marriage, Chuck and Stella began supporting area music organizations. Chuck’s family traces their involvement at St. Cecilia Music Center to 1913, when his grandmother, Mrs. Matthew Lund, and her daughter, Maria (Chuck’s mother), became members. Chuck grew up roaming the halls and tunnels of the St. Cecilia building with his brother while his mother attended committee meetings and concerts. Since 1913, five generations of Royce family members have participated in programs at St. Cecilia Music Center and Chuck himself spent years dedicated to SCMC’s mission and to supporting its programs.
Executive Director of St. Cecilia Music Center Cathy Holbrook comments:
“Chuck Royce literally spent his entire life knowing St. Cecilia Music Center. We are all overwhelmingly saddened by the loss of one our most important and beloved patrons and supporters. Chuck and Stella Royce are referred to as the Patron Saints of St. Cecilia Music Center and St. Cecilia wouldn’t be what it is today without them. The immense impact that Chuck Royce had on this organization is commemorated in the naming of Royce Auditorium, which will be his family’s legacy in the building forever. Chuck helped bring others into St. Cecilia with his contagious enthusiasm for our mission and programs. He was most definitely our biggest fan.”
Chuck and Stella Royce supported a variety of arts and other organizations in West Michigan. They gave money and volunteered their time not only to St. Cecilia Music Center, but also to the Grand Rapids Symphony, Grand Rapids Ballet, Michigan Ballet Academy, Opera Grand Rapids, Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, Girls Choral Academy, Choir of Men and Boys, Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grandville Center for the Arts and Humanities, Michigan Council for the Arts, Interlochen Center for the Arts and Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. They funded scholarships or contributed in other ways to many area educational institutions, including Grand Rapids Community College, Grand Valley State University, Aquinas College, Davenport University and the Student Advancement Foundation. They have been active supporters of the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Rotary International, Sister Cities International, YMCA, YWCA, St. Mary’s, Spectrum Health, Porter Hills Foundation, Arthritis Foundation, Literacy Center of West Michigan, and Senior Neighbors, among others. Royce Auditorium at St. Cecilia Music Center was named for them in 1986. In 2001, the Royce Center for Dance (now Meijer/Royce Center for Dance) for the Grand Rapids Ballet was dedicated to them.
Chuck Royce was among a group of distinct influencers in Grand Rapids. He, along with his recently deceased friends Fred Meijer, Peter Cook and Peter Wege, together with other prominent generous donors, including Rich DeVos and Jay Van Andel, shared a vision for the future of West Michigan. This generation of wonderful community-minded supporters has made an everlasting mark on the city.
A memorial service will be held Monday, June 29, 2015 at St. Cecilia Music Center 24 Ransom Ave. NE, Grand Rapids MI. The service will be at 11:00AM and visitation with the family starts at 10:00AM