It’s About the Relationships

Central is a family affair for Curt ’88 and Mary Holden Blythe ’90 of Williamsburg, Iowa.

“Central has impacted everybody in our immediate family and beyond,” Curt Blythe says. Curt’s brothers include Jeff ’86 and Matt ’93. Three of the couple’s sons, Trenton ’08, Holden ’12 and Corbin ’17, graduated from Central.

“It’s about the relationships,” Curt Blythe adds. “When you’re a 17- or 18-year-old kid and you go to a place like Central, you really don’t know what to expect. But a lot of that becomes clear down the road as you mature and gain perspective on how much the people there have impacted your life. And for Mary and me, that’s truly the case. There are so many great people that make Central what it is.”

Curt and Mary Blythe made a major donation to the college’s Forever Dutch® initiative. The project includes construction of a spacious women’s varsity locker room with a team meeting room, a reconfigured athletic training room that provides more treatment space and an expanded athletics equipment room.

An expansive new women’s locker room provided much-needed space and was constructed in the second phase and opened this fall, matching the men’s locker room that was added in 2017. Central’s women’s athletics program didn’t exist when P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium was constructed in 1969.

An expansive new women’s locker room provided much-needed space and was constructed in the second phase and opened this fall, matching the men’s locker room that was added in 2017. Central’s women’s athletics program didn’t exist when P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium was constructed in 1969.

“This is a transformative gift and we are profoundly grateful,” says Central President Mark Putnam. “The Blythe family’s multigenerational contributions to Central extend far beyond financial support. In evolving roles as Central students, athletes, alumni and parents, they have made a substantive difference in the life of this institution.

“Their remarkable generosity is exceeded only by their passion for providing for others. They are fervently committed to ensuring that future students benefit from the Central experience as richly and broadly as they have.”

Beyond helping students, the Blythes sought to recognize those who served Central years ago as well as those who do so now.

“We’re in a blessed position to be able to do this and it’s just a reflection on how we feel about the people we’ve known in the past and those currently on campus,” Curt Blythe says. “We just felt like it was the right thing to do.”

The Blythes’ generosity is gamechanging, says Eric Van Kley, athletics director and wrestling coach.

“Their gift and the gifts of thousands of others will help provide life-impacting opportunities for Central student-athletes for years to come,” he says. “But even more, I appreciate that I can always count on Curt and Mary for support and guidance. They have no interest in personal recognition but have an understanding of the impact they can make and a desire that their support will motivate others.”

While downplaying their own contributions, the Blythes encouraged other alumni and college friends to take the extra steps needed to help Central reach the fundraising goal. Curt Blythe said he is eager to see work swiftly ensue, which will bring new life to the building’s second floor with team meeting space, a new welcome center, recruitment space, offices and visitor locker room.

As parents, Curt and Mary Blythe observed the same kind of lasting relationships they developed at Central impacting the lives of the college’s students today.

“I think it’s a rock-solid environment that you trust,” Curt Blythe says. “I’m sure my parents felt the same when Jeff and I went off to Central in the mid-’80s. You know you trust the people who are there. That was no different then as it is now, both academically and athletically. There are certainly peaks and valleys just like in any other part of life, but I think what endures is the trust you have in Central and the integrity of its leaders.

“I just really appreciate the culture and the environment that the leadership has tried to create at Central and has enhanced throughout the years.”

While Curt values the education and experience Central provided, perhaps even more he cherishes the friendships generated here. He cited past and present faculty members and coaches, including his football coach, AFCA Hall of Famer Ron Schipper, as well as staff members like retired Vice President for Advancement Dave Sutphen ’61 and his wife Ardie Pals Sutphen ’64, who remain in close contact. And teammates became lifelong friends.

“Probably the best memories are the relationships I had with guys I competed with, in my case, both wrestling and football,” he says.

Enabling others to develop those same life-defining connections is ultimately what fuels the Blythes’ stewardship.

“I think Central is doing a lot of really good things,” Curt says. “And our family wants to see Central continue to be successful long into the future.”

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