Richard DeVos

Richard "Rich" Marvin DeVos Sr.[2] (March 4, 1926 – September 6, 2018) was an American billionaire businessman, co-founder of Amway with Jay Van Andel (company restructured as Alticor in 2000), and owner of the Orlando Magic basketball team. In 2012, Forbes magazine listed him as the 60th wealthiest person in the United States, and the 205th richest in the world, with an estimated net worth of $5.1 billion.[3]

Richard DeVos
Richard DeVos and Gerald Ford (1975-06-06).jpg
DeVos in 1975
Richard Marvin DeVos

(1926-03-04)March 4, 1926
DiedSeptember 6, 2018(2018-09-06) (aged 92)
Alma materCalvin College
Known forAmway founder, owner of NBA's Orlando Magic
Net worthUS$5.4 billion (February 2018)[1]
Political partyRepublican
Helen Van Wesep
(m. 1953; died 2017)

Early lifeEdit

Rich DeVos was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the son of Ethel Ruth (Dekker) and Simon Cornelius DeVos, who worked in the electrical business.[4] He was educated at Grand Rapids Christian School,[5] and at Calvin College, and was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. He served in the military in World War II in the United States Army Air Corps.[6]


DeVos and his school friend Jay Van Andel founded Amway in 1959 as a multi-level marketing business to distribute cleaning products, following the business model they had observed in a previous venture together. They ran the business together, expanding it over the decades into an international distributor of a wide variety of products.


Books written by him include Compassionate Capitalism and Hope From My Heart: Ten Lessons For Life. The latter reflects his feelings after successfully undergoing a heart transplant operation in the United Kingdom in 1997 after being turned down for a transplant in the US because of his age and diabetes.[7] This was preceded by two heart-bypass operations in 1983 and 1992.[8] In 1975, DeVos published a book about his success, co-authored with Charles Paul Conn, titled Believe!.[9] In 2014 he published his memoirs, titled Simply Rich.[10]

Sports ownershipEdit

DeVos welcoming fans before a game in October 2010

DeVos was the owner of the NBA team Orlando Magic, having bought the team in 1991 for $85 million.[11] He became interested in the team after an unsuccessful effort to acquire a Major League Baseball expansion franchise for Orlando.[12]

DeVos also formerly owned the Orlando Solar Bears, Grand Rapids Griffins, and the Kansas City Blades, three International Hockey League franchises before that league folded;[13] the Solar Bears and Blades were closed as a result of the league folding, while the Griffins moved to the American Hockey League, and are now under the ownership of Dan DeVos, one of Richard's sons.[14]

DeVos asked Orange County, Florida, to help pay for the Orlando Magic's new arena using county funds and Dema Stobell's Corporation money. Amway pays for the naming rights to Amway Center. The use of public money was controversial.[15]


He sat on the board of trustees of Northwood University and has been president of the Council for National Policy. He also served on the board of trustees of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, which is a museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution.[16] He sat on the legacy board of Christian Leaders Institute,[17][18] the nonprofit organization founded by Henry Reyenga Jr. after he was encouraged by DeVos and Ron Parr.[19]


He co-founded the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, an American conservative foundation and grant-making body in 1970.[20] It is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.[21] The DeVoses were known in their philanthropy for contributing to education, health care, arts and historic causes like Mount Vernon, and conservative think tanks such as The Heritage Foundation and AEI.[22]

According to the DeVoses, the core of their giving is local. "A focus of our philanthropy has always been our home area. We want to create an atmosphere for everyone to improve their circumstances while advancing our community, whether through Christian compassion, education, health care, or the arts."[23] The DeVoses gave money to organizations ranging from local schools to the regional symphony. According to the Philanthropy Roundtable, their giving is "helping turn Grand Rapids, Michigan, into one of the livelier and healthier small cities in the U.S. When the couple won their Simon Prize in 2006, they distributed the award money to eight local organizations in western Michigan 'whose leaders all demonstrated resourcefulness in helping people help themselves'".[23]

With his wife, Helen June (Van Wesep),[24] DeVos was a winner of the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership.

Education-related philanthropy included the Richard M. and Helen DeVos Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Grand Valley State University,[25] the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse at Hope College[26] and the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Arts and Worship at Grand Rapids Christian Schools.[27] The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation was in part responsible for funding the creation of the Sport Business Management Program at the University of Central Florida.[28]

Political involvementEdit

DeVos was a major donor to the U.S. Republican Party and to conservative causes, including Focus on the Family, and the American Enterprise Institute. DeVos supported the candidacies of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.[29][30] DeVos has served as a finance chairman for the Republican National Committee.[31] In 1987, President Ronald Reagan appointed DeVos to the President's Commission on the HIV Epidemic,[32] and was criticized at the time for characterizing people with AIDS as wanting "special treatment".[33] He was a dedicated opponent of marriage equality for LGBT people.[33]

DeVos was a long-time close friend of Gerald and Betty Ford, and was an honorary pallbearer at Gerald Ford's state funeral. He was an honorary trustee of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation.[34]

On December 10, 1980 Guy Vander Jagt recited and entered into the Congressional Record an entire transcript of Rich DeVos' speech given in Boca Raton, Florida to the Drug, Allied, and Trades Association entitled, "Selling America." [35][36]

Personal lifeEdit

DeVos was the father of Dan DeVos the owner of the Griffins, Richard Jr., Cheri, and Doug. Richard Jr., who is married to United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, was the Republican Party nominee for governor of Michigan in 2006, but was defeated by incumbent governor, Jennifer Granholm.[37]

DeVos was a member of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. He the spent the last decade in his life trying unsuccessfully to rejoin it with the Reformed Church in America, from which it had split in 1857, dividing his grandparents.[33]


He died at his home in Ada, Michigan on September 6, 2018, at the age of 92.[9][38]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Forbes profile: Richard DeVos". Forbes. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  2. ^ "Amway's Founders". Amway Global. Retrieved April 14, 2020.
  3. ^ Forbes magazine profile of Richard DeVos Forbes. Retrieved March 2012.
  4. ^ "The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography: Current volume". J.T. White. October 20, 1967. Retrieved October 20, 2017 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ Nagengast, Kate (March 17, 2009). "DeVos gift to Grand Rapids Christian Schools relieves debt, puts schools on 'very stable financial ground'". MLive. Retrieved November 24, 2019.
  6. ^ The Possible Dream, by Charles Paul Conn, page 6
  7. ^ "Richard DeVos obituary". The Times. September 19, 2018. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  8. ^ Levin, Doron (October 8, 1997). "Fate, patience bring DeVos a new heart: Amway cofounder back after journey for life". Detroit Free Press.
  9. ^ a b "Orlando Magic senior chairman Rich DeVos passes away at 92". Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  10. ^ "Simply Rich". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved September 7, 2018.
  11. ^ "Orlando Team Sold". New York Times. September 20, 1991. Retrieved July 27, 2010.
  12. ^ "N.B.A. Orlando Team Sold". The New York Times. September 20, 1991. Retrieved February 12, 2018.
  13. ^ "Magic, DeVos family plan to buy Orlando Solar Bears". Retrieved September 7, 2018.
  14. ^ "DAN DEVOS". Retrieved September 7, 2018.
  15. ^ "Nothing but the best for new arena: Look what your taxes helped buy". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved March 13, 2010.
  16. ^ "National Constitution Center, Board of Trustees". National Constitution Center. July 26, 2010. Archived from the original on June 15, 2010. Retrieved July 27, 2010.
  17. ^ "Christian Leaders Directory". Free Ministry Training – Ordination. Retrieved January 15, 2016.
  18. ^ "Christian Leaders Institute". Christian Leaders Institute. May 7, 2012. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
  19. ^ "HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN LEADERS INSTITUTE". Retrieved September 7, 2018.
  20. ^ Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation Archived July 25, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ The Grantsmanship Center (February 27, 2017). "Funding State by State". The Grantsmanship Center.
  22. ^ How MLive analyzed DeVos family's $90.9 million in annual donations,, January 19, 2016
  23. ^ a b "Updates on Past Winners, 2001–2013".
  24. ^ Estell, Kenneth (October 20, 1998). "Foundation Reporter". Taft Group. Retrieved October 20, 2017 – via Google Books.
  25. ^ "M. and Helen DeVos Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation".
  26. ^ Richard DeVos’ Philanthropic Impact Reflected by Hope Campus,, Greg Olgers, September 6, 2018
  27. ^ "DeVos Center for Arts and Worship".
  28. ^ Sport Business – About the DeVos Foundation Archived July 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ Bennett, Laurie (December 26, 2011). "The Ultra-Rich, Ultra-Conservative DeVos Family". Forbes. Retrieved November 28, 2013.
  30. ^ Confessore, Nicholas (December 16, 2012). "Michigan Effort Shows G.O.P. Sway in State Contests". NYT. Retrieved November 28, 2013.
  31. ^ "Richard M. DeVos Sr". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved November 28, 2013.
  32. ^ Boffey, Philip M. (September 15, 1987). "U.S. Panel on AIDS, Citing Challenges, Ousts Staff Chief". New York Times. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  33. ^ a b c Knape, Chris (May 19, 2009). "At 83, Amway co-founder Richard DeVos prepares company's third generation, addresses church, gay-marriage concerns". Michigan Live.
  34. ^ "Rich DeVos - Gerald R. Ford Foundation". May 29, 2013. Retrieved September 6, 2018.
  35. ^ Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the ..., Volume 126, Part 25 By United States
  36. ^ Congress, United States (1980). "Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the ... Congress".
  37. ^ "2006 Official Michigan General Election Results – Governor 4 Year Term (1) Position". Archived from the original on January 11, 2015. Retrieved January 26, 2010.
  38. ^ "Amway co-founder Richard DeVos dies at 92". CNN. September 6, 2018. Retrieved September 7, 2018.

External linksEdit