A man who earned his first dollar shining shoes and taught himself to invest in stocks bequeathed nearly half his fortune to Van Andel Education Institute (VAEI) upon his death — an amount totaling $3 million.
Arthur Joseph Jabury’s gift — designated to support VAEI — took the Institute completely by surprise, as there has been no prior communication about the intended gesture while Jabury was alive.
“Mr. Jabury’s quiet generosity is an incredible inspiration,” remarked David Van Andel, chairman and CEO of Van Andel Institute. “His acknowledgment of the Institute’s impact on science education is received with great gratitude.”
Jabury, who died in October 2014, was born in 1927 and raised on Grand Rapids’ lower west side. As a pre-teen, he worked as a shoeshine boy along Monroe Avenue. He graduated from Grand Rapids Union High School, served in the U.S. Army, and then graduated with a degree in business administration from the University of Michigan in 1953 on the G.I. Bill. Jabury spent his career in accounting and personnel at General Motors Fisher Body plant on Alpine Avenue NW. He and his wife had no children. After widowed, he and retired educator Dorothy Broekstra became companions. Jabury had been best friends since youth with Dorothy’s late husband, Bob, and the couples often socialized.
During their 20-year plus years together, Broekstra helped Jabury keep meticulous financial records, which rendered in pencil into large ledger books dating back to the 1950’s. According to Broekstra, Jabury conducted his own research into VAI in the same painstaking way he explored investment opportunities.
“I remember when he talked about the upcoming Medical Mile and the role Van Andel Institute had in helping make it happen,” she said. “Art believed in the research and education being conducted at the Institute, especially since he was himself faced with heart and lung disease.”
Jabury’s gift comes at an opportune time, said Love Collins, III, vice president of development, communications and marketing at VAI, as Van Andel Institute launches Nexgen Inquiry® — an ambitious initiative destined to transform the way science in taught in K-12 schools. Efforts are underway to underwrite the program and this gift will help make it widely accessible in school districts across the country.
“Mr. Jabury’s bequest will help us accelerate our efforts to teach students how to think and act like scientists,” Collins said. “He leaves an important legacy as we educate the researchers of tomorrow.”