DeVos in 1975
Richard Marvin DeVos
March 4, 1926
Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.
|Died||September 6, 2018 (aged 92)|
Ada Township, Michigan, U.S.
|Alma mater||Calvin College|
|Known for||Amway founder, owner of NBA's Orlando Magic|
|Net worth||US$5.4 billion (February 2018)|
Helen Van Wesep
(m. 1953; died 2017)
Richard Marvin DeVos Sr. (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.
DeVos was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the son of Ethel Ruth (Dekker) and Simon Cornelius DeVos, who worked in the electrical business. He was educated 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.
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 1997. This was preceded by two heart-bypass operations in 1983 and 1992. In 1975, DeVos published a book about his success, co-authored with Charles Paul Conn, titled Believe!. In 2014 he published his memoirs titled "Simply Rich".
DeVos was the owner of the NBA team Orlando Magic, having bought the team in 1991 for $85 million. He became interested in the team after an unsuccessful effort to acquire a Major League Baseball expansion franchise for Orlando.
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; 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.
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.
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. He sat on the legacy board of Christian Leaders Institute, the nonprofit organization founded by Henry Reyenga Jr. after he was encouraged by DeVos and Ron Parr.
He co-founded the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, an American conservative foundation and grant-making body in 1970. It is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The DeVoses were known in their philanthropy for contributing to education, health care, arts and historic causes like Mount Vernon, and free-market think tanks such as The Heritage Foundation and AEI.
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." 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'".
With his wife, Helen June (Van Wesep), 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, the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse at Hope College and the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Arts and Worship at Grand Rapids Christian Schools. 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.
DeVos was a major donor to the U.S. Republican Party and to conservative causes, including Focus on the Family, the American Enterprise Institute. DeVos supported the candidacies of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich. DeVos has served as a finance chairman for the Republican National Committee.
DeVos was a long-time close friend of Gerald and Betty Ford, and was an honorary pallbearer at Gerald Ford's state funeral. Devos was also an honorary trustee of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation.
In addition to Dan (owner of the Griffins), DeVos was the father of 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 then-incumbent governor, Jennifer Granholm.
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