Couple’s Generosity Honored in Renaming High School Auditorium

Foundation Uses Donation to Fund Sound System

A new sound system will enhance student performances, such as this recent production of “Beauty and the Beast”

Mike and Alice Holton gave much to Cedar Springs. From the renovation of Skinner Field at the middle school and the Main Street pedestrian bridge, to the high school auditorium band shell, they poured their hearts and resources into the community where Mike’s father once was a Free Methodist pastor.

“They were absolute Cedar Springs citizens,” Kathy Raudenbush said of her late parents, who long owned and operated Holton’s LP Gas. “They were completely committed to the betterment of the community in any way they could possibly help out.”

Mike and Alice Holton were longtime supporters of Cedar Springs schools and the community
Mike and Alice Holton were longtime supporters of Cedar Springs schools and the community

The Holtons’ giving spirit has been newly honored with a $25,000 gift, recently presented by the Cedar Springs Education Foundation, for a new sound system in the high school auditorium, which will be renamed Holton Auditorium. The gift was the first one made from more than $170,000 the foundation received from sale of the former Holton home, which was donated last year by the couple’s four children.

“We thought they would be very happy if we made a donation of the house to the Education Foundation,” said Raudenbush, a former Cedar Springs teacher who spent part of her upbringing in the home on Northland Drive. “We all felt they were up there smiling down at us going, ‘Good job, guys.’”

Vacant since Mike and Alice Holton died in 2011 and 2013, respectively, the house underwent some repair after the Education Foundation assumed ownership. It sold quickly, netting $171,554 after expenses. After reviewing possible projects with the schools, the foundation decided to make its initial $25,000 grant to replace the auditorium sound system.

“We felt like it would be the biggest community impact,” said foundation President Jeni McIntyre. “So many more than just high school students use the auditorium. It touches everybody in the community.”

‘Their Whole Life Was About Giving’

McIntyre said proceeds from the home’s sale will be invested wisely, and will “make sure we’re around for a while and still be able to give grants to the schools.” It continued the legacy of the Holtons’ generous gifts, many of them made anonymously, and which were recognized by the naming of Holton Drive on the school district campus.

“Their whole life was about giving to education and the schools,” McIntyre said. “That (the family) chose us to continue that legacy in the future is something the foundation doesn’t take lightly.”

Raudenbush said the Holton children are pleased the money will go to improve the auditorium.

“It’s something that can be used by all the students,” she said. “When I was teaching, even the elementary students would have concerts in the spring there.”

Charles Honey
Charles Honey is a freelance writer and former columnist for The Grand Rapids Press/ MLive.com. As a reporter for The Press from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today magazine, Religion News Service and the Aquinas College alumni magazine. Read Charles' full bio.

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