Richard DeVos, co-founder of Amway, dies

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ADA, Mich. – Richard M. DeVos, the billionaire co-founder of Amway and owner of the NBA’s Orlando Magic, has died, his family announced Thursday.

DeVos died peacefully at his home in Ada, surrounded by family, at the age of 92.

DeVos was born March 4, 1926, in Grand Rapids. He was a graduate of Grand Rapids Christian High School, attended Calvin College, and served in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1944 to 1946.  He married Helen J. Van Wesep in 1953. Helen DeVos died last October.

Richard and Helen donated to Christian churches and ministries and various other causes through their Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation. He also helped in the revitalization of downtown Grand Rapids, including the restoration of what now is the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.

DeVos was also a major supporter of the Republican Party and was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to the Presidential Commission on AIDS in 1987.

DeVos purchased the Orlando Magic for $85 million in 1991. He held the title of senior chairman with the team at the time of his death.

DeVos is also a former owner of the Grand Rapids Griffins hockey team, which is now owned by son Dan DeVos.

The family released this statement:

Our father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, Rich DeVos, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his family on September 6, 2018, at age 92.

Dad spread positivity everywhere he went and encouraged everyone he met.  He did that for his children and grandchildren, and for countless others around the world.  His positivity was a constant, motivating force that inspired many others to make meaningful changes in their own lives and communities.  He was a visionary leader, builder, life enricher, motivator, and a champion for people from all walks of life.

Rich DeVos was many things to many people, but to us he was simply “Dad,” “Grandpa,” “Bumpa,” or “Papa Great.”  We are deeply grateful and blessed beyond measure to have been loved unconditionally, raised, mentored, and inspired by him.  He was a role model unlike any other. 

While we are saddened by his passing, our hearts are full as we celebrate the extraordinary life he led. We are comforted that he is reunited with Mom, and that together they are experiencing the joy of eternal life with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Dick, Dan, Cheri, Doug and Families

DeVos, along with Jay Van Andel, founded Amway in 1959 in the basements of their homes in Ada.  Before that, he and Van Andel had early business ventures into a flight school and a drive-in restaurant.  In 1949, they became distributors for Nutrilite, which then inspired them to start Amway.

DeVos was the president of Amway from the company's founding to 1993, when his son Dick DeVos took over.  Richard continued to serve on the Amway board of directors until his death.

DeVos lead several different organizations in West Michigan over the years that helped revitalize Grand Rapids, especially in health care, the arts and higher education. He was chairman of the New Grand Rapids Committee in the 1970s and then also served on several boards as chairman on the Butterworth Health Corporation, director of Spectrum Health, director of the Heart of West Michigan United Way, president of Junior Achievement of Grand Rapids, and has been a member of the board of trustees for the Gerald R. Ford Foundation.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been finalized.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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