John Boll, founder of manufactured home supplier Chateau Properties Inc. and generous education philanthropist of Grosse Pointe Shores, died last week. He was 93 years old.
Mr. Boll was the founder and chairman of Chateau, a Macomb County-based manufactured home developer, which was the first person to take a collection of mobile home communities to Wall Street before selling to the pension fund from Washington State for $2.3 billion.
He died on August 24 in Detroit surrounded by his family.
“He lived his life as an adventure and used his time, talents and resources to glorify God, while trying to engage, empower and love others,” his family said in a press release. .
Through the John A. and Marlene L. Boll Foundation, Mr. Boll and his wife have donated millions to educational, arts, cultural and healthcare organizations in the Southeast of Michigan, focusing their giving on their Christian faith, hard work, honest business practices, helping children. and the poor and the beautiful in the world.
Mr Boll met his wife, a professional dancer with the New York dance troupe The Roxyettes, in 1951 while serving in the US Army. They married in 1954.
From a wheelbarrow and a shovel, Mr. Boll built one of the largest prefabricated housing companies in the country. After serving in the United States Army, he founded Lakeview Construction Co. In 964, he started Chateau Estates, developing communities of manufactured homes in Michigan and Florida.
Chateau Estates went public in 1993, becoming Chateau Properties, a real estate investment trust listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Clinton Township-based Chateau Properties merged with Englewood, Colo.-based ROC Communities in 1997, then sold to the Washington State Pension Fund in 2003. At the time, it had 240 communities in 36 states with over 100,000 residential sites.
Mr. Boll also devoted his life to philanthropy after selling the business.
He served on the board of many organizations including the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) for many years and served as president for four years. He has also served on the boards of the St. John Health System Foundation and the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute. The Boll Family YMCA in downtown Detroit was named after him and his wife when it opened in 2005 to provide educational and athletic programs.
The couple have made donations to support education at Liggett School University, Grosse Pointe Public Schools, Detroit Cornerstone Schools, Grosse Pointe Foundation for Public Education and William Tyndale College Christian School. , since closed, in Farmington Hills.
The family’s philanthropy also extended to arts and cultural groups, including the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Opera (then Michigan Opera Theater), Grosse Pointe Theater, Vail International Dance Festival, Detroit Institute of Arts, Gerald R. Ford Amphitheatre, the Detroit Riverfront. Conservancy and the Dossin Great Lakes Museum of the Detroit Historical Society.
Their desire to improve access to care also led the couple to make donations to the Boll Center for Human Development in the Neighborhood Club in Grosse Pointe, which enables families to receive pediatric physical, professional, speech therapy.
They funded a new pediatric surgical waiting room at Children’s Hospital of Michigan, the Boll Professional Building at Ascension St. John Hospital in Detroit, the Pena Colorectal Center at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, the Michigan Parkinson Foundation and other organizations .
Among his honors, Mr. Boll was inducted into the National Manufactured Housing Institute Hall of Fame in 1992. And former U.S. President Gerald R. Ford presented Boll with the Citizen of the Year Award for Vail/Beaver Creek , Colorado in 1996.
In 2004 John and Marlene Boll received the Max M. Fisher Award for Outstanding Philanthropists from the Greater Detroit Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and two years later the William Booth Award from the Salvation Army.
In addition to Grosse Pointe Shores, they had homes in Key Largo, Fl.; and Beaver Creek, Colorado.
Mr. Boll is survived by his wife of 68 years, Marlene; children, John Jr. (Donna) Boll, Lora (Sergio) Mazza and Kristine (Jim) Mestdagh; eight grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. September 8 at Grosse Pointe Memorial Church at Grosse Pointe Farms.