BYRON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Byron Center High band members practice on the Van Singel Fine Arts Center stage that bears Dan Pfeiffer’s name.
It’s one of many ways the community has honored the longtime auto dealer and philanthropist who died Friday at the age of 89.
“We’re incredibly blessed as a community because we have a lot of generous hearts here. And I think Dan was very much at the forefront of that because he had a lifetime of giving,” Sara Bower, managing director of Van Singel Fine Arts Center, said.
The general public knows the name from the dealership that has operated at 28th Street and Breton Road for over five decades. But in Byron Center, he is the local farm boy who never forgot about his community.
“They say to whom much is given, much is expected. And Dan surely exceeded expectations in every regard,” Bower said. “Byron Center has changed so much over the course of his lifetime and he has been a real driving factor… So yeah, very much Mr. Byron Center. “
Born in 1931, Pfeiffer’s first foray off the family farm was a long one. He went into the U.S. Army and eventually to Korea, where he rose to the rank of sergeant during the war.
When he returned to West Michigan, he began his career in the car business, eventually opening up Pfeiffer Lincoln Mercury in the mid-1960s.
“Dan has always been there for us. You could always call upon Dan. You knew that he would always, always come through,” Bower said.
Through the years, he gave or raised millions of dollars to countless organizations, from cancer research at the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge to Faith Hospice Care, where he also donated land for the organization’s Byron Center facility.
It’s where he died Friday.
The Van Singel Fine Arts Center at Byron Center High School is just one more example. He wrote checks to the center to the tune of more than $100,000 over the last 22 years.
But the relationship went well beyond an open checkbook. He was also always the first call when the center needed food for an event or a vehicle to pick up performers.
“He more just wanted to chat and find out what’s going on. What are the kids doing? Just wanted to celebrate Byron Center,” Bower said. “Celebrate life. Talk about life. Just a really incredible man. And a really generous spirit.”
Limited public visitation for Dan Pfeiffer is set for Thursday. A private funeral will be held Friday.