Richard M. DeVos, trustee at The King’s College in New York City, passed away in Ada, Mich., the morning of September 6, 2018. He was 92 years old.
“Being around Rich DeVos was more than a privilege,” President Tim Gibson says. “His personal achievements are truly unparalleled, yet his interactions with each and every person around him were invariably characterized by genuine warmth, caring, and attentiveness. He exuded an unwavering dedication to seeing people thrive, deeply rooted in his personal faith. Rich and his dear wife, Helen, are truly inspirations to everything we do at The King’s College.”
DeVos was the co-founder and former president of Amway Corp., chairman of the Orlando Magic, and a minority owner of the Chicago Cubs. He was husband to the late Helen DeVos, father of current Amway president Doug DeVos, and father-in-law of the United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
Rich DeVos was born on March 4, 1926 in Ada, Mich., a small town outside of Grand Rapids. He graduated from Grand Rapids Christian High School, where he met Jay Van Andel. DeVos and Van Andel would later found Amway Corp together in 1959. DeVos attended Calvin College and then served in the United States Army Air Force from 1944 to 1946. In 1953, DeVos married Helen Van Wesep of Grand Rapids. They had four children together and sixteen grandchildren. DeVos’s confidence, vision, and sense of adventure paired perfectly with his wife Helen’s graciousness and wisdom.
As they worked hard on the Amway business together, Rich and Helen committed themselves to giving ten percent of their income to the Church, seeing themselves as stewards of what God had entrusted to them. They devoted themselves to philanthropy in West Michigan and to supporting institutions of higher education, including Calvin College, Grand Valley State University, and The King’s College. The DeVos’s generosity was instrumental in the ongoing work of The King’s College, including their foundational support for the College’s first Manhattan real estate purchase at 102 Greenwich St., which serves as a student residence. The DeVos’s philanthropy has also blessed institutions including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, the DeVos Place Convention Center and Concert Hall, Prison Fellowship Ministries, LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church, and Grand Rapids Christian School Association.
DeVos received countless awards including Lifetime Achievement Award (Direct Selling Association, 2012), the Hillman Award (Alliance for Health, 2012), Clare Boothe Luce Award, (The Heritage Foundation, 2010), Trustee’s Award for Distinguished Service (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2007), William E. Simon Prize in Philanthropic Leadership (2006), Corporate Citizenship Award (Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, 2006), and the Circle of Humanitarians Award (American Red Cross, 2005). DeVos has spoken before hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. His recorded talk, “Selling America,” received the Alexander Hamilton Award for Economic Education from the Freedoms Foundation. He has written four books: BELIEVE!, Compassionate Capitalism, Hope From My Heart: Ten Lessons for Life, and Ten Powerful Phrases for Positive People.
In 2013, DeVos received an honorary doctorate from The King’s College as a tribute to his dedication and service. He actively served as a trustee on The King’s College Board of Trustees from 2013 until his passing. He deeply believed in the mission and vision of The King’s College and his contributions to the College have been transformational.
Chairman of the Board Tim Dunn said of DeVos’s passing, “When Rich prayed at the King’s board meetings, it was like listening in on one end of a phone conversation, with Rich speaking with a dear friend. It is sad for us that he is gone, but we rejoice with Rich that he is now having those intimate conversations in person.”