Shortly after the death of Astronaut Roger B. Chaffee in the Apollo I  January 1967 tragedy a few of Roger’s classmates of Central High School Class (1953) suggested starting a scholarship fund in his memory. One of his classmates was Grand Rapids Attorney Reginald Norris who chaired a formation committee that included Roger’s parents Don & Blanche Chaffee. The founding of the Fund was publicized in the Grand Rapids Press and donations from classmates, local school candy sales and a $1000 check from North American Aviation were some of the first donations. The first Board of Directors was made up of community leaders from all walks of life. The Scholarship Fund had a balance of $9,261 at yearend 1967. The first scholarship of $500 was awarded to Bernie Siebers, an outstanding senior from Central High School in May 1968. 


Board of Directors



Robert Steelman, President (1998)   

Linda Burba, Vice–President (1998)  

Ted Burba, Vice–President (1998)    

David W. Pequet, Treasurer (1984)   

Donald VerMerris, Secretary  (2004)  

Dale A. Young, Historian (2002) 


Honorary Directors 

The Honorable Gerald R. Ford (1913-2006) 38th U.S. President  

Don L. Chaffee (1910-1998)  

Blanche M. Chaffee (1912-1996)  

Donna Chaffee Young (1932-2002) 

Capt. Eugene A. Cernan, ret. Apollo and Gemini Astronaut  

Marty Allen; Chairman Emeritus Gerald R. Ford Foundation   

Col. Jack Lousma, ret.   Skylab and Shuttle Astronaut   

Dr. George J. Woons  Retired Superintendent Kent Intermediate School District     

Douglas Guthrie (1953-2013)  

Dr. Jack and Joanne Townsend    

Judge Michael R. Smolenski (1944 - 2009) Retired, Michigan Court of Appeals  W.D. 

“Frank” Frankforter (1920-2014) Director Emeritus, Grand Rapids Public Museum 

Lt. Col. Harold Bode (1997-2017) USAF Chaplain, ret. 


David DeBruyn (1987) Curator Emeritus  Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium    

Ron Caniff (2015) Kent Intermediate S. D. Superintendent    

Mike Karpus (2006) Grand Rapids Press   

Max Gibbs (1972)  

Brent Havens  (1991)  

Matthew Pequet  (2008)  

Dale Robertson (2013) President, Grand Rapids Public Museum 

Kenneth Cott (2014)  Grand Valley State University  

Glen Swanson (2017)  Grand Valley State University  

Emily Hromi (2017)  Planetarium and Theater Manager, Grand Rapids Public Museum 

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