Helen DeVos, a longtime member of the Board of Trustees at The King’s College in New York City, passed away in Ada, Mich. on the evening of October 18, 2017 surrounded by her family. She was 90 years old.
“Helen DeVos served as both a light and a visionary witness to the entire King’s community. Her deep level of engagement and insight shone through in the dozens of board meetings and telephonic calls she attended during her time of service as a trustee. As an institution tasked with building the next generation of young Christian leaders, The King’s College is singularly grateful to have had Helen DeVos as an example of faithful stewardship in one’s life. She will be greatly missed,” said President Gregory Alan Thornbury.
Helen was the wife of Amway founder Richard DeVos, the mother of current Amway president Doug DeVos, and mother-in-law of the United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Helen was born on February 24, 1927, and lived for most of her life in the state of Michigan. She attended Calvin College and a few years later met her future husband Rich. Helen was a quiet, gracious, wise woman whose strengths paired perfectly with Rich’s confidence, vision, and sense of adventure.
As Helen and Rich continued to work hard on their company, they committed together to always give ten percent of their income to the Church. From this commitment has come a worldwide legacy of philanthropy, on a scale that neither of them could have imagined. For Helen, the work that she loved the most was supporting and caring for children. She always viewed her immense blessings as a way to give material support, care, and the love of Christ to those who needed it.
Helen’s most beloved philanthropic projects included the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra, the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, and Christian higher education — including The King’s College. In 1971, she began to serve on the board of the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra and later on the executive committee; she has been an Honorary Board Member since she retired in 1992. Helen was also an honorary board member of the League of American Orchestras in New York City, where she served as a board member from 1982-1992, as Vice Chairman of the Executive Board from 1985-1992 and Chairman of the Nominating Committee from 1989-1991.
In 2013, Helen received an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters from The King’s College as a tribute to her dedication and service. She served as a trustee on The King’s College Board of Trustees from 2013 until her passing.
Helen’s children remember her as a woman of profound faith, who truly lived out St. Paul’s admonition to “pray without ceasing.” Her father served as a minister, and from an early age Helen learned to live out her deep Christian values in everything. Her marriage, her home, her philanthropic work, and her entire community were infused with her commitment to seeking God’s will and abiding with it.