C. Thomas and Evelyne Kapteyn have been involved with the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park from its beginnings. “When it was being built, I bought a brick with my wife’s name on it,” recalls C. Thomas. “I love the variety here—the woods, lakes, fountains, perennials, the Children’s Garden. The Gardens show a delightful part of God’s world and man’s artistic abilities. We have both been impressed with how highly rated the Gardens are throughout the world,” commented Evelyne, a retired librarian. She adds that the aesthetics of the building are impressive too, from the cement supports that are shaped like trees to the leaf shapes embedded in the floor, remarking that “it’s so fascinating that no two leaves are alike.”
The Kapteyns involvement with the Frederik Meijer Gardens Foundation began because of a somewhat tongue-in-cheek comment by their son, Thomas P. Kapteyn. The three of them were discussing living wills and estate planning and talking about where to put their money. “I said ‘maybe I’ll buy a sculpture for the Meijer Gardens,’ remarked Thomas P., who is an electronic technician. He adds that, at that point, he hadn’t even been to the Gardens but that he was impressed with Fred Meijer and his philanthropic work. Both his parents liked the idea. “I was a food broker for many years and worked with Meijer. I have known Fred since 1958. He is a man of honesty and great character,” noted C. Thomas.
“We like giving to the Foundation because it’s ongoing. We can’t just think in terms of now for the Gardens. We have to think of the future and generations to come,” stated C. Thomas. When calling the Gardens to inquire about making a gift to the Foundation, he was referred to the Foundation’s President, Ray Loeschner, who suggested that the Kapteyns become members of the Perennial Society, and they decided to do so. The Kapteyns and their son made provisions for deferred gifts to the Foundation, establishing them as Charter Members of the Perennial Society, an endowment fund designated for deferred gifts of $10,000 or more. The wills of the Kapteyns are linked, both stipulating the percentage of money that will go to the Foundation.
All three Kapteyns have enjoyed the Perennial Society’s annual events held at the Gardens. In addition to enjoying the meal, they relish remarks by Fred Meijer, and tours of the Gardens. Last June’s reception included a tram tour of the Chihuly exhibit guided by Joseph Becherer, Director of Exhibitions & Curator of Sculpture. Evelyn also likes the fact that staff take family pictures of Perennial Society members in the Gardens.
Since the Kapteyns and their son, who lives on a ten-acre farm landscaped with many 100’ tall trees, like gardening and appreciate nature, the Frederik Meijer Gardens Foundation was a great fit for their charitable gifts. “Even though our son was just joking around when he first suggested buying a piece of sculpture for the Gardens, noted Evelyn, we all agreed that the Foundation was a worthy cause to have in our wills.”