Famous People From Kent County
And The State of Michigan

Past and Present Kent County area residents that have become famous beyond our boundaries. Do you know others? Know of an online biography about his or her life? Send them in! We can add them to the list!


Alten, Mathias J.
Well-known local Artist - painting with oils

Anderson, Gillian
Actress; "The X-Files"; student at Fountain Elementary and Grand Rapids City High.


Ball, Lucy

Bean, Gwenneth
Singer with Lyric Opera of Chicago

Belnap, Captain Charles E.
Civil War Soldier and Mayor of Grand Rapids

Bentley, Ray
Former NFL linebacker for Buffalo Bills, commentator for NFL on Fox

Benson, Johnny, Jr.
Race car driver

Bissell, Anna Sutherland
Co-Founder and President of the Bissell Carpet Sweeper Company


Chaffee, Roger B.
Astronaut Killed 1967 in Apollo 1 accident.
Grand Rapids Planetarium named in his honor.

Champlin, Stephen Gardner
Civil War Brigadier General

Claytor, Helen Jackson
Teacher and first black woman president of the YWCA

Cole, Emma
Noted 19th-century Botanist and Teacher


Debarge, Robert Louis
R & B Singer for Switch and DeBarge groups

DeJong, David Cornel
Author of novels, children's books, poetry and short stories

DeJong, Meindert:
Children's author, first American to win Hans Christian Andersen Award

DeVormer, Albert E.
Major League Baseball Player

Devos, Richard
Made Forbes 400 Richest list, October, 1998. Ada, Michigan (Amway).

DeVries, Peter
Author/humorist; attended Calvin College

Diemer, Brian
Well-known Local Runner

Dix, Eulabee
Miniature Portrait Artist

Duncan, Patrick Sheane
Author/director/screenwriter; "Opus" based on Duncan's childhood experience in West Michigan.


Eldering, Dr., Grace and Kendrick, Dr., Pearl
Whooping cough vaccine founders

Essink, Ron
Tackle for the Seattle Seahawks and championship wrestler


Ferguson, James, M. D.
Obituary of famous Grand Rapids Surgeon

Ford, Gerald Rudolph -
38th President of the United States
(1913 - 2006)

Elizabeth Bloomer Ford
First Lady of the United States

Foster, Wilder DeAyr
U. S. Congressman


Gentz, Edward W.
Well-known local artist

Gibson, Kirk
Detroit Tigers Baseball Player

Gingrich, Arnold
Late founder of Esquire magazine; author of "Cast down the Laurel" based on his Grand Rapids experiences. Esquire was founded in 1933 in Chicago by legendary editor Gingrich. Originally a men's apparel trade magazine, Esquire immediately established its name as a showcase for literary writers, most notably, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Granholm, Jennifer
Governor of Michigan, 2002-

Greene, Al
Soul and gospel singer; 1966 graduate of South High School

Griffith, Roberta
Established Organizations for the Blind


Henry, Paul B.
U. S. Representative and U. S. Senator from Michigan

Hockenberry, John
Voice on National Public Radio for over 15 years; correspondent for "Day One" ABC news magazine

Hogeboom, Gary
Quarterback for Indianapolis Colts

Huizenga, Wayne
Owner of Blockbuster video and Florida Panthers Hockey team; graduate of Calvin College.


Innes, William Power
Civil War General


Jonkman, Bartel John
U. S. Congressman


Kendrick, Dr., Pearl and Eldering, Dr., Grace
Whooping cough vaccine founders

Ketcham, Emily Burton
A very involved in the Woman's Suffrage Movement.

Ketchel, Stanley (Stanislaus Kiecal):
World Middleweight Boxing Champion born in 1886 on West Side. Killed by gunshot. Funeral largest ever seen in Grand Rapids with several thousand showing up at St. Adelbert's. 
Murder of Stanley Ketchel

  • Kiedis, Anthony
    Singer for Red Hot Chili Peppers.


    LaFramboise, Madeline
    French-Indian Early Fur Trader

    Lousma, Jack R.
    NASA astronaut.

    Lubbers, Arend "Don"
    President of Grand Valley State University

    Luedtke, Kurt
    Screenwriter, "Out of Africa" and "Absence of Malice."


    Mayweather, Jr., Floyd
    Boxer; 1996 Olympics bronze medal

    Meijer, Hendrick
    Made Forbes Family Fortunes list, October, 1998. Founded by Dutch immigrant, Hendrik Meijer and now run by Fred Meijer.

    Merizon, Armand
    Prominent Grand Rapids Painter

    Meyer, Greg
    Runner; 1983 Boston Marathon winner

    Miller, Dean
    Hollywood actor

    Moore, Julia A.
    Michigan Poet Laureate

    Mueller, Fredrick Henry
    Congressman and Furniture Business Owner


    Patton, John, Jr.
    U. S. Senator, filling out expired term, 1894 - 1895

    Perkins, Lynn Rae
    Author & Illustrator of children's books - 2006 Newbery Award winner

    Byron Root Pierce
    General in the Civil War

    Francis Junior Pierce
    U. N. Navy, WWII
    Medal of Honor

    Pipp, Wally Clement
    Professional baseball player for the Tigers, Yankees and Reds

    Platte, Alfred Frederick Joseph
    Detroit Tigers Baseball Player


    Rourke, Constance
    Author and historian

    Rowe, Mrs. Helen Baker   

    Roy, Luther Franklin
    Major League Baseball Player 

    Rozema, Dave
    Former pitcher for Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers


    Sawyer, Harold Samuel
    Lawyer, U. S. Congressman

    Schrader, Paul
    Motion picture producer/director/writer; including "Hard Core" which was partially set and filmed in Grand Rapids.

    Secchia, Peter F.
    Ambassador to Italy, businessman.

    Smith, General Israel C.
    Colonel in the 10th Michigan, Civil War

    Smith, William Alden
    U. S. Republican Congressman

    Stanley, Mitchell Jack "Mickey"
    Former center fielder for Detroit Tigers.

    Steigenga, Matt
    Played forward for Chicago Bulls.

    Glendon Swarthout
    Author, who wrote "Where The Boys Are"


    Trotter, Mel
    Evangelist and Founder of Missions


    Vader, Randy
    CEO for PraiseGathering Music Group

    Van Andel, Jay
    Made Forbes 400 Richest list, October, 1998. Ada, Michigan (Amway)

    Van Allsburg, Chris
    Writer and illustrator of children's books; winner of Caldecott Medal
    Van Allsburg, Christopher Quimbley

    Arthur Hendrick Vandenberg
    U. S. Senator from Grand Rapids, Michigan

    Richard Vander Veen
    Democratic U. S. Representative replacing Gerald R. Ford in the U. S. House.
    26 November 1922 - 3 March 2006

    Van Regenmorter, William
    Michigan State Representative and Michigan State Senator

    Dirk J. Vlug
    Congressional Medal of Honor winner for gallantry in World War II. Single-handedly destroyed five tanks and their crews in the Philippines with a rocket launcher and a pistol.


    Wege, Peter M.
    Made Forbes 400 Richest list, October, 1998. Grand Rapids, Michigan (Steelcase)

    Weidenaar, Reynold
    Well-known Artist, Printer of Grand Rapids, Michigan

    Whitten, Chris
    Professional golfer

    Wilcox, Franklin L.
    Civil War - Congressional Medal of Honor
    U. S. Congressman

    Wilkins, Roger
    Pulitzer Prize winner and former assistant U.S. attorney general
    Graduate of Creston High School

    Wilson, Elizabeth
    Actress ("The Graduate") and graduate of Central High School


    York, Dick
    American Actor


    Zimmer, Kim
    Actress and star of "Guiding Light", CBS soap opera.

    Submitting other Famous Kent County Residents
    Requirement: The person must have been born in or lived in West Michigan area. Send an email to the County Coordinator, Evelyn Sawyer, and include: the person's name, a description of the person, the URL, if there is a biography on him/her on the internet, and your name and email address, so we can give credit for your contribution.

    URL: http://kent.migenweb.net/biographies/famous/index.html  
    Created: 24 September 1999

    Contact County Coordinator:  evlynsaw@comcast.net