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Wayne State University

Dear campus community,

I’m saddened by the news that our friend Gretchen Valade passed away last week. Gretchen raised the profile of jazz in Detroit through her sponsorship and leadership of the Detroit Jazz Festival, and her significant gifts to Wayne State established a permanent legacy in jazz studies and performance.

Wayne State will soon be the proud home of the Gretchen C. Valade Jazz Center and underground jazz club in the Hilberry Gateway. We’re disappointed that she won’t be present to celebrate the grand opening of this beautiful new performance center, and we will keep her close in our thoughts on that opening day and many other days.

She also funded the Gretchen Valade Endowed Chair in Jazz and the Gretchen Valade Endowed Scholarship in Jazz, ensuring Wayne State continues to explore and push the boundaries of the music she loved so much.

Wayne State University was proud to present Gretchen with an honorary Doctor of Laws in 2016 in recognition of her indelible contributions to arts, culture and business in Detroit.

Gretchen’s gifts to Wayne State University totaled $9.5 million, but her contributions to our campus and her influence on jazz in this city are impossible to calculate. Her passion for jazz will live on in the talented student musicians and others who perform in the Gretchen C. Valade Jazz Center.

A spirited champion of the arts, a cherished friend of Wayne State, and simply a wonderful person to know, Gretchen was a legend in our city, and I mourn her passing with a heart full of fond memories and enduring gratitude.


M. Roy Wilson

M. Roy Wilson





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