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GRCC community mourns the loss of Distinguished Alumna Olivia Margo Anderson

August 1, 2023, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Grand Rapids Community College mourns the loss of Olivia Margo Anderson, who attended GRCC as a student and later became a leader in the community and at the college, serving as chairperson of the board of trustees. She leaves a legacy of opening up educational opportunities for all students.

“Margo Anderson changed generations of lives by working to ensure that education was within reach of all students,” said David Koetje, chairperson of the GRCC board of trustees . “She was determined to increase access to life-changing education and make a difference in her community. She will be missed tremendously.”

Anderson, who passed away on July 28, 2023, at age 81, was a lifelong educator who was recently honored with the Distinguished Alumna Award at GRCC’s commencement on April 28, 2023.  She started her education at what was then Grand Rapids Junior College and transferred to Western Michigan University. She later earned three master’s degrees from Western, in Elementary Education, in Counseling and Personnel, and in Educational Leadership. 

Anderson worked 32 years in the Grand Rapids Public Schools as an elementary teacher, high school counselor, assistant principal and elementary  principal. She retired from GRPS in 2000, and was elected to the GRCC board of trustees a year later, serving through 2014 and holding several leadership roles. 

Anderson focused on inclusion and equity during her time on the board, working to ensure a life-changing education was within reach of all students. 

“Margo and I shared a common belief that everyone who wants a college education should be able to access it,” said GRCC President Charles Lepper. “It was my honor to present her with the Distinguished Alumna Award earlier this year,  and I plan to continue to advocate for access to education for all in her honor. ” 

Beyond her decades of serving the children in Kent County, Anderson was a 50-year, life member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., a lifelong member and trustee of First Community AME Church, Grand Rapids History Council, YWCA, and as an Urban League of West Michigan board member. She earned the 1991 Phyllis Scott Activist GIANT Award and a Tribute Award from the YWCA.

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