As the only child of Peter Martin and Sophia Dubridge Wege, Peter M. Wege began honoring their memory half a century ago. Because of his mother’s strong Catholic faith, her son often used his gifts to church causes as an opportunity to memorialize his parents. His first major gift in 1959 went to help build Alburtus Magnus Hall of Science for Aquinas College.
At the ceremonies opening the new science hall on October 22, 1960, Wege dedicated the building to his parents. A memorial plaque at the entrance to the science building commemorates both Peter Martin, who died in 1947, and Sophia Dubridge Wege, who died August 17, 1959. Almost fifty years later, on September 23, 2008, Peter again paid tribute to his parents and, again, it was through the Catholic Church. This most recent gift was an act of spontaneous generosity and for the most personal of reasons. Seated outdoors in the new Cathedral Square during the dedication of the Catholic Diocese headquarters at 360 S. Division, Peter went back in time as he gazed across the Square. He was looking at a renovated office building on the northwest corner of Division and Wealthy.
In 1911, his father moved into the upstairs apartment in that building when he came to Grand Rapids from Ohio to start Metal Office Furniture. After he married Grand Rapids native Sophia Dubridge, it was their first home. It became the first home of their only child Peter M. Wege when he was born in Februrary 1920.
Now that original Wege home overlooks the newly dedicated Cathedral Square, anchored by the $22 million, 100,000 square-foot Cathedral Square Center building. The new Center is, of course, LEED certified as all Peter Wege’s capital donations must be.
The Most Reverend Walter A. Hurley, Bishop of Grand Rapids was as stunned as the 600 people in the audience were at Peter’s additional, surprise gift. When he had time to reflect on what Peter Martin and Sophia Wege’s son had done for the church, Bishop Hurley wrote:
I am grateful to Peter Wege for his extraordinary gift to the diocesan Cathedral Square project. This recent gift reflects a tradition of support for the Diocese of Grand Rapids, its parishes, schools, and institutions as well as many local, national, and international programs and organizations. Time and again, through his unwavering generosity, Mr. Wege has demonstrated his commitment to and passion for the church, the community, education, healthcare, and the environment.