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Peter Secchia

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Peter Secchia
United States Ambassador to Italy
In office
July 3, 1989 – January 20, 1993
PresidentGeorge H. W. Bush
Preceded byMaxwell M. Rabb
Succeeded byReginald Bartholomew
Personal details
Born(1937-04-15)April 15, 1937
Englewood, New Jersey, U.S.
DiedOctober 21, 2020(2020-10-21) (aged 83)
East Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
EducationMichigan State University (BA)

Peter Finley Secchia (April 15, 1937 – October 21, 2020) was an American businessman and Republican political activist, who also served as the United States Ambassador to Italy and San Marino[1] from 1989 to 1993.

Education and early life[edit]

Secchia was born in Englewood, New Jersey. He grew up in nearby Tenafly and graduated from Tenafly High School and then went on to attend Michigan State University.[2] He left the university because he could not afford tuition and joined the Marines. He eventually earned a degree in economics in 1963.[3]


Secchia served in the United States Marine Corps from 1956 to 1959 and graduated from Michigan State University in 1963 with a degree in economics.

Secchia was a fund-raiser in the Republican Party in Michigan.[4] He started as chairman of the Kent County, Michigan Republican Committee and later became the chairman of the 5th Congressional District of Michigan committee. He was elected to be Michigan's Republican National Committeeman in 1980, 1984, and 1988. Secchia was a vice chairman of the Republican National Committee and headed its Midwest Region. He was host chairman of the 1985 RNC Midwest Leadership Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was on the national advisory committee of the 1988 George Bush for President Committee. Secchia founded the Lake Michigan Conference, and was a national co-chair of the Dole for President Campaign.

From 1989 to 1993 Secchia was the United States' ambassador to Italy.[5] His nomination was controversial as he was one of several made by Bush of long-time financial backers and financial supporters, including Walter Curley (ambassador to France), Joseph Zappala (Spain), Mel Sembler (Australia), Frederic Bush Morris (Luxembourg), and Joy Silverman (Barbados).[6]

Secchia was the CEO and chairman of the board of Universal Forest Products, a company that manufactures engineered wood components. He was Chairman of the River City Food Company which has 29 restaurants, catering facilities, and banquet locations in the states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Maryland.

In 1994 he was appointed to chair the Secchia Commission I by Michigan governor John Engler, which was focused on improving government services. The Secchia Commission II focused on public sector pensions.

He received the Cavaliere di Gran Croce (The Knight of the Great Cross). He also was awarded the Department of State Distinguished Honor Award during his service as ambassador to Italy, an award given to serving ambassadors and to non-career ambassadors.

Secchia served for twelve years on the board for John Cabot University in Rome. Secchia was a member of the National Italian American Foundation Council of 1000. He was founding president of the West Michigan Lodge of the Order of Sons of Italy in America; he inaugurated the Festa Italiana, the region's largest annual ethnic festival and has participated in and sponsored many Italian-American events. He was awarded the NIAF Special Achievement Award for International Affairs, and lent his name to The Founding Values Initiative Award... the "Secchia Award for Heartfelt Commitment."


In 2010, Secchia made a $1 million outright donation to Michigan State University, to be used to build a new stadium for the women's softball team at Old College Field, named Secchia Stadium.

Secchia Hall, a building on the MSU College of Human Medicine Grand Rapids campus, is named after Secchia. The building is part of the Grand Rapids Medical Mile.[7]

Secchia Hall, a residence hall on the Grand Valley State University's Pew Campus, is also named after Secchia.[8][9]


Secchia died on October 21, 2020, after contracting COVID-19 during the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan on top of other health issues over several months.[10][11]


  1. ^ Rosati, Jerel A.; Scott, James M. (January 15, 2010). The Politics of United States Foreign Policy. Cengage Learning. pp. 139–. ISBN 978-0-495-79724-1. Retrieved July 5, 2011.
  2. ^ "Obituary: Peter F. Secchia", Blue Book Services, October 21, 2020. Accessed January 12, 2021. "Born April 15, 1937, Peter spent his early years in Tenafly, NJ, graduating from Tenafly High School and then serving in the United States Marine Corps with NATO and the 2nd Battalion 6th Marines in Beirut."
  3. ^ Johnson, Mark. "Peter Secchia, top MSU donor and prominent Republican, dies after contracting COVID-19". Lansing State Journal. Retrieved January 12, 2021.
  4. ^ Roberts, Sam (October 30, 2020). "Peter Secchia, Confidant of Ford and Bush, Dies at 83". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 31, 2020.
  5. ^ "The Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training Foreign Affairs Oral History Project AMBASSADOR PETER F. SECCHIA" (PDF). Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training. June 6, 1994. Retrieved July 12, 2024.
  6. ^ "True to tradition. President Bush is rewarding his long-time financial backers and political supporters with desirable ambassadorships, mostly in Western Europe". The Financial Times. April 2, 1990.
  7. ^ "Secchia provides lead gift, Grand Action to help campaign as MSU board launches plan to change the way medicine is taught, delivered". MSUToday. Retrieved June 3, 2024.
  8. ^ "Secchia Hall - Facilities Services - Grand Rapids and Regional Centers - Grand Valley State University". Grand Valley State University. Retrieved June 3, 2024.
  9. ^ "Secchia Hall - Housing and Residence Life - Grand Valley State University". Grand Valley State University. Retrieved June 3, 2024.
  10. ^ "Former US Ambassador Peter Secchia dies at 83". WOODTV.com. October 21, 2020. Retrieved November 26, 2020.
  11. ^ "West Michigan business leader Peter Secchia dies at 83; COVID-19 was 'contributing factor'". Crain's Detroit Business. October 21, 2020. Retrieved November 26, 2020.
  • "Secchia provides naming gift for new MSU softball stadium", Michigan State University News

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by United States Ambassador to Italy
Succeeded by