Holly Palmer ’97

Holly Cheff Palmer, beloved friend, philanthropist, and community leader, died unexpectedly on July 23, 2022, as a result of surgical complications.

She was born on February 18, 1951, to parents Francis and Annabelle Palmer, in Holland, Michigan.

Holly attended West Ottawa Public Schools, graduating in the top ten of her 1969 class, prior to attending Michigan State University. Her collegiate education was interrupted due to the untimely death of her mother, but ultimately, she was able to complete her Art History degree at Hope College. Given Holly’s Magna Cum Laude academic distinction, she was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest honorary scholastic society. As a result of her academic excellence and love of the arts, Holly became a docent at the Grand Rapids Art Museum and served on the boards of both the Holland Area Arts Council and the Ox-Bow School of Art and Artist Residency.

Holly shared her love of horses, and frequent participation in equestrian events, with her dear friend and eventual husband, Theodore (PT) Cheff. So together, they finished the project that Ted had begun before their marriage: The Cheff Therapeutic Riding Center in Kalamazoo County.    Because it was the first equine assisted riding center in North America, it demanded generous and enthusiastic support, so Holly provided both. She believed that riders of all ages who had physical, emotional or cognitive disabilities might be afforded fuller and happier lives, if given the opportunity to engage with horses. Holly was a visionary, and her contribution to therapeutic riding programs will be a cherished gift for generations of Americans.

As an avid student, Holly pursued travel to exotic locales, roamed through countless art museums, and immersed herself in books. Her life was filled with friends who shared her joy, her curiosity, and her love of the animal kingdom. Because Holly believed that diversity was an inherent characteristic of the natural world, she opened her heart to anyone who exhibited understanding, empathy, and tolerance for others. And it is that unconditional love and acceptance of others, that Holly’s legion of friends will never forget.

Holly is survived by her partner Steve Shepler, her sister Sherry Moser, and her nephews, Rejon and Cory Moser.

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