Larry Ter Molen ’59

It is with profound sorrow that we announce the passing of Larry Richard Ter Molen, a distinguished and foundational figure in the world of fundraising, a kind and generous community booster, and most of all a beloved and loving family man. Larry left this world on February 9, 2024, leaving behind a legacy of kind and supportive leadership, integrity, innovation, and unwavering dedication to his family and to the causes he championed.

Larry is survived by his loving wife of 63 years, Edna Hollander Ter Molen ’60, his three sons, Mark (Joannie) Ter Molen, Matthew (Jenna) Ter Molen, and David (Shirley) Ter Molen, and eight grandchildren, Andrew, Perry, Evan (Kelsey), Ryan, Meghan, Dylan, Anna, and Sydney.  Born on August 10, 1937, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to Elizabeth and Richard Ter Molen, Larry Ter Molen was a man of remarkable accomplishments. An only child and the first in his family to attend college, Larry graduated from Hope College in Holland, Michigan, where he captained the 1958 football team to its best-ever record, winning the conference championship.  He was named the team’s most valuable player, named to the All-American team, and made history as the first representative of Hope College to be included in a post-season bowl game, the Optimists’ All-American Bowl in Tucson, Arizona, on January 3, 1959.

It was also at Hope where he met the love of his life, Edna Claire Hollander, whom he married in 1960.  They supported each other through 63 years of loving marriage, and Edna was with Larry every step of the way as he battled Parkinson’s these past two-and-a-half years.

Larry’s academic journey led him to a B.A. from Hope College to obtaining a master’s degree in political science from the University of Michigan and post-graduate studies at American University. Larry served in the Central Intelligence Agency for several years and then returned to his alma mater, Hope College, to begin his career in the non-profit world, becoming Hope’s director of development for several years before relocating Edna and his growing family to Dallas, Texas, where he was the vice president in charge of fundraising and alumni relations for Southern Methodist University.

In Dallas, Larry used his fund raising skills as a volunteer to help found the Dallas Inter-tribal Center, which provided medical and other support services to native Americans, and engaged in his passions for sailing, ice cream – through opening a Swenson’s ice cream parlor franchise – and being a family man, taking the family on camping trips throughout the southwest and coaching his young sons in various sports.

Larry subsequently took the job of head of development at the Art Institute of Chicago and moved the family – now three boys – to Evanston, Illinois, where he lived for the rest of his life.  At the Art Institute, he served as vice president and executive vice president for development and public affairs for two decades. Under his leadership contributions exceeded $435 million and membership reached 159,000, making it the largest art museum membership in the United States.  Larry also instituted the tradition of decorating the lions flanking the museum entrance with appropriate civic symbols, including holiday wreaths and Chicago Bears helmets.

Throughout his career, Larry received numerous awards, including the Benjamin Franklin Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals in 1988, recognizing his significant achievements and role-model status for fundraisers. In 1996, Advertising Age named Larry one of “The Marketing 100” in the United States.  After retiring from Art Institute in 1996, Larry founded the fundraising consulting firm of Ter Molen, Watkins, Brandt & Associates, Inc.

A proud Evanstonian, Larry founded the Evanston Community Foundation, which provides support to numerous community organizations, was active in the First United Methodist Church, an avid sailor, and was a constant presence at innumerable local sporting events, cheering on first his sons and then eight grand children in a wide variety of activities.  He will be missed.

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