Peter Bemis, a member of the Lakeland College Board of Trustees for more than three decades, former chairman of the board and a great friend and supporter of the college, passed away Thursday night. He was 66.
Peter, the president and CEO of the family-owned Bemis Manufacturing Company, became a Lakeland trustee in 1979, and served as board chairman from 1992 to 1998. He was a member and chairman of several board committees over the years, and at the time of his passing he was a member of the board's executive committee and the academic and student affairs committee.
"Our Lakeland College family has lost one of its most insightful and influential leaders," said Stephen Gould, Lakeland College president emeritus and president of Lakeland from 1998-2012. "Peter Bemis' enthusiasm for Lakeland's mission was infectious. During his 34 years of service as a trustee, he advised and counseled three of the college's presidents and played a decisive role in virtually all the initiatives that have made Lakeland College the vital and robust institution it is today."
Peter served on Lakeland's Decade 2000 Task Force, the college's Design for Tomorrow campaign and was a past chair of the community campaign for the annual fund.
Peter and his wife, Susan, were significant financial supporters of the college. In 2008, he funded the construction of a school in Malawi, Africa, to benefit Lakeland's Malawi Teacher Education Program. He was also instrumental in creating the F.K. "Pete" Bemis Senior Endowed Professorship in Business Administration, which honors his father. The position is currently held by Abe Qastin.
The family has close ties to the college. His son, Peter, is a 2012 Lakeland graduate; his daughter-in-law, Nena Jakovac, earned a bachelor's degree in 2006 and a master of arts in counseling in 2009; and his step-daughter, Aleah Altman, is a 2013 graduate.
Interim President Dan Eck said, "On behalf of the college, I extend our thoughts and prayers to the Bemis family. We mourn Peter's passing, but will always be grateful for everything he did for the college."