Long-Time Member and RPOA Volunteer Passes
It is with a very heavy heart and profound sadness that I must share the news of a great man’s passing. Long-time and dedicated Rental Property Owners Association (RPOA) member, Tom Koetsier, passed away October 25, 2020. Our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to Tom’s family, friends and business associates. Tom was a well-respected leader and a friend of the RPOA and a champion of the industry at all levels.
Tom joined the RPOA in 1998 and was actively involved up and until his passing. Though Tom was retired from the board, he stayed engaged in governmental affairs with the RPOA, the RPOA of Michigan and the Grand Rapids area Greater Regional Alliance of REALTORS (GRAR). His knowledge, wise counsel, candor and balanced judgment will certainly be missed and is a great loss to the industry and to the community.
Tom served in several capacities with the RPOA over the years including RPOA Board of Directors, RPOA President, RPOA Vice President, RPOA Treasurer, RPOA Public Relations Committee Chair, RPOA Programs and Services Committee Chair, RPOA Annual Conference Committee Chair, RPOA Building Committee member, RPOA Finance Committee Chair, RPOA Governmental Affairs Committee Chair, trainer for the RPOA Certified Owner-Manager/Professional Housing Provider program and the Real Estate Investor Mastery certification program. He also contracted with the RPOA for many years as salesperson for the RPOA magazine and exhibitor/sponsorships for the annual conference. He was tireless in his pursuits and his commitment to the RPOA.
Tom was appointed to the RPOA Board in 2004 and was reelected several times, serving until 2019 with only one year off during that time due to term limits. Tom also served as the Board President from 2008-2012 and again from 2015-2018.
Tom received recognition for his consistent and devoted dedication to the RPOA by being honored with multiple Board Member of the Year awards handed out by the President of the Board, including a first-ever combined Outstanding Volunteer of the Year for 2018-2019 and Leadership Achievement Award for his service from 1998-2019.
We’d be remiss in not recognizing some of Tom’s major achievements during his service to the RPOA. While it’s difficult to single out just one person among the many dedicated RPOA volunteers, I think most would agree that Tom was a unique leader, always steering the RPOA ship back on course when it started to drift from its mission. He was diligent in keeping his eye on the RPOA’s finances to ensure the RPOA was being a good steward of the members’ investment. He was a constant advocate for improvement in the services and benefits of the RPOA—holding that “constant and gentle pressure” for change was important. Tom seemed most proud of having led the fight to prevent the expansion of the City of Grand Rapids rental inspection program for single-family rentals which didn’t succeed in preventing the implementation of the program but did result in a six-year certification cycle that rewards property owners that maintain their properties in good repair. The result of which has now directly influenced the extension of certifications in Kentwood, Wyoming and Muskegon. Tom was also a big supporter of the RPOA’s education program—helping to expand the RPOA’s current offerings, especially the annual conference. Tom’s approach to the conference was always “the bigger the better—more speakers, more exhibitors”—and, a huge advocate for free admission. Because of Tom’s leadership, the conference is now the largest real estate investor conference and expo in Michigan.
In addition to his service with the RPOA in Grand Rapids, Tom also served on the board of the Rental Property Owners Association of Michigan from 2007-2017, serving as Vice President in 2007 and President from 2008-2013 and again from 2015-2017. Tom took the lead in honing the state association into a respected and successful lobbying organization for the industry.
Tom along with his wife, Clare Wade, and his daughter Allison Koetsier, was a successful owner and manager of rental and investment properties for over 27 years. He held his Michigan license as a Real Estate Broker, was a graduate of the REALTORS Institute, an Accredited Buyers Representative and a graduate of the RPOA’s Certified Owner-Manager program and recipient of the National Real Estate Investors Association’s Professional Housing Provider designation. He was associated as a real estate professional with Kay Courtney & Associates, Koetsier Realty and Compass Realty Services. He also served on the City of Grand Rapids Planning Commission for several years.
On top of all that, Tom always found time to help members with their personal real estate questions and to assist the RPOA staff by answering technical questions. Many investors in the community acknowledge Tom as their mentor and friend—responsible for, to some degree, their success in the business. I doubt there are few investors in Grand Rapids who didn’t know Tom or had not heard his name.
If the reader can bear with me and allow me take a little liberty, I’d like to share a few personal notes about Tom. Tom was not only a gifted leader and dedicated volunteer but was truly a great friend. We shared a love of history and real estate. I have to admit, he was a tough but gentle boss. I know that sounds like an oxymoron, but if you knew Tom, I think you understand. While we didn’t always hold the same opinions, he was always respectful of mine—and others. And, when he made a mistake (which wasn’t often), he was quick to admit it. I could expound further on my deep feelings for this man, but I think letting others express their thoughts might be more enlightening. Here are just a few of the dozens of comments received by me over the past day from his friends and colleagues at the RPOA and GRAR. (I’ve removed the names as I did not ask permission to use the quotes.)
“Tom epitomized the best in community involvement and provided rare insight for all of us to share in. Best of all he was a fine human whose friendship once earned never wavered.”
Words are never enough to express all that someone has given in life to their family, friends, community and business acquaintances…I’m sure I’ve come up terribly short in my effort.
We will all miss you my friend.
Clay B. Powell
Due to COVID-19 and safety concerns, the family has decided not to have a public memorial service for Tom but suggest a contribution be made to Tom’s favorite charity, the Kid’s Food Basket, https://www.kidsfoodbasket.org/. In Tom’s honor, the family encourages the RPOA community to consider his call to action to “Join a committee.”
You can listen to a couple of podcast interviews with Tom by clicking on a link below:
Episode #4: Buying & Selling Rental Property, Appealing your Tax Assessment with Tom Koetsier
Episode #116: Where Politics and Real Estate Investing Connect: Supporting Candidates and Legislation that Support us as Real Estate Investors with Tom Koetsier