Our Founder

John Earl Fetzer (1901-1991), was familiar with the call of the sacred within the secular. Trained as an electrical engineer, he began his career in 1931 by designing, building, and operating his own radio station that he then expanded into a Michigan-based, multistate broadcasting empire including radio, television, cable, and closed-circuit music transmission.

In his private life, John Fetzer had an intense intellectual curiosity about the “unseen elements” of life. He studied various forms of meditation, prayer, philosophy, and positive thinking, and explored various healing modalities. From a young age he also had a passion for baseball, an enthusiasm that led him to purchase the Detroit Tigers baseball club. In his later years, he established an endowment for the Fetzer Institute through the sale of the team and his media holdings.

The interests that shaped John Fetzer’s life are the seedbed for the questions that define the work of the Fetzer Institute: How can the secular and sacred elements of life be better integrated? How can the insights of science and the power of technological innovation be utilized to explore the capacities of the mind and spirit? How can the wisdom and insight gained through inner exploration be used to better our individual and collective wellbeing? And how can the entrepreneurial spirit and financial resources gained from the American business sector be used in the service of creating a better world?

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John Fetzer on Love

John Fetzer on love

Our founder, John E. Fetzer’s roots were in the Christian faith, but through his lifetime he explored and embraced the wisdom of many other great traditions. He was committed to living in close, daily communion with the divine mystery, which he was equally comfortable calling “God,” the “Holy Spirit,” or simply “Love.” 

Realizing this expansive notion of love became his vision for all beings and all things. He believed that his purpose in life was to help catalyze and support this spiritual transformation.

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