In Memoriam: Kathy Wilbur, a Respected Leader at MSU

Kathy Wilbur’s obituary portrays a distinguished leader’s life.

She left an indelible imprint on Michigan politics and higher education.

She died at the age of 70, bringing to an end a legacy woven with unshakable dedication to public service.

Wilbur’s career emphasised dedication and activism, with roles in three state offices and advisory posts at Michigan State University (MSU) and Central Michigan University (CMU).

She managed government connections while also promoting revolutionary educational programmes.

Her legacy lives on through the long-lasting improvements she spearheaded.

Her death leaves a significant vacuum in Michigan’s governing and educational sectors. It honours a life dedicated to service and advancement.

Who is Kathy Wilbur?

Kathleen “Kathy” Wilbur was a well-known figure in Michigan’s state government and higher education.

She was noted for her considerable contributions to public university education while serving as the senior vice president for government relations at Michigan State University (MSU).

Kathy was also a state government veteran, having worked as a lobbyist for MSU.

Kathy Wilbur made history by being the first woman to lead three state departments in Michigan.

She was a powerful figure in both state government and university administration.

She campaigned for good change and empowering other women in higher education jobs.

Kathy Wilbur died at the age of 70 as a result of a rapid relapse of cancer.

Her untimely passing was lamented by the community and leaders throughout Michigan, who recognised her enormous impact and dedication to her field.

Kathy Wilbur Cause of Death

Kathy Wilbur died on Sunday at the age of 70 due to a recurrence of cancer.

Wilbur battled breast cancer and was in remission for nearly ten years until being diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer in 2019.

Throughout her sickness, Wilbur demonstrated resilience and a cheerful attitude, working until her retirement in January 2021.

Kathy Wilbur Obituary

Kathy Wilbur leaves a legacy of public service and mentorship behind her.

She was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 2007.

She served as head of the board of directors of Michigan Future, Inc., a nonprofit think tank dedicated to assisting Michigan in thriving in a knowledge-driven economy.

Throughout her career, Wilbur has been known for her dedication to higher education and advocacy for Michigan’s prosperity.

Wilbur valued “local shopping” and was renowned for her passion for reading, seeing Broadway performances, and spending time with her family and friends.

Tributes & condolences

Following Kathy Wilbur’s death, many people flocked to social media to honour her life and legacy.

“Her career was incredibly impressive, especially as a woman in the Lansing scene,” said Lisa Hansknecht, executive director of government relations and community services for Oakland Schools. She was a mentor to me (and someone I admired). Kathy was a brilliant and dedicated public servant. She was also clever and possessed a healthy dose of sarcasm.”

“In a town like Lansing full of prancing ponies, Kathy Wilbur was a Clydesdale,” Michigan pollster Richard Czuba observed. She was the one both parties could rely on to perform the heavy lifting. Everyone has a Wilbur tale because she was important. Everyone has a Wilbur story because she patiently taught everyone something. A brave Michigander. Today is a cloudier day in Michigan.”

According to Lou Glazer, president and co-founder of Michigan Future, Inc., “her decades of being an advocate for higher education and making Michigan a better place for all have been felt far and wide.”

Kathy Wilbur is survived by her husband, four sons (Thomas, William, Samuel, and Raymond), and one granddaughter, Mary.


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