Richard DeVos

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Richard DeVos
Richard DeVos Jay Van Andel Gerald R. Ford.jpg
Richard DeVos (center) and Jay Van Andel with President Gerald R. Ford, 1975
Born Richard Marvin DeVos
(1926-03-04) March 4, 1926 (age 92)
Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.
Residence Ada Township, Michigan, U.S.[1]
Known for Amway founder, owner of NBA's Orlando Magic
Net worth US$5.4 billion ( February 2018)[2]
Spouse(s) Helen June (Van Wesep) DeVos (1927–2017; her death)
Children Dick DeVos
Dan DeVos
Cheri DeVos
Doug DeVos

Richard Marvin DeVos Sr. (born March 4, 1926) is 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] At one point, he was one of the 10 wealthiest Americans.

Early life

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 Calvin College and is a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity. He served in the military in World War II in the United States Army Air Corps.[5]


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.[6] In 1975, DeVos published a book about his success, co-authored with Charles Paul Conn, titled Believe!. In 2014 he published his memoirs under the ambiguous title "Simply Rich".

Sports ownership

DeVos is the owner of the NBA team Orlando Magic, having bought the team in 1991.[7] DeVos bought the Magic for $85 million. He became interested in the team after an unsuccessful effort to acquire a Major League Baseball expansion franchise for Orlando.[8]

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. In 2011, it was announced that DeVos planned to revive the Solar Bears as an expansion franchise for the ECHL. The new franchise took the ice in October 2012.[citation needed]

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.[9]


He sat on the board of trustees of Northwood University and has been president of the Council for National Policy. He is on the board of trustees of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, which is a museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution.[10] He sits on the legacy board of Christian Leaders Institute, a non-profit organization that offers Free High-Quality Ministry training in over 160 countries.[11][12] DeVos co-founded the Christian Leaders Institute with Henry Reyenga Jr. and Ron Parr.[citation needed]


With his wife, Helen June (Van Wesep),[13] DeVos is a winner of the William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership. He co-founded the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, an American conservative foundation and grant-making body in 1970.[14] It is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.[15]

The DeVoses are known in their philanthropy for contributing to 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."[16]

The DeVoses have given 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'".[16]

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.[17]

Political involvement

DeVos is a major donor to the U.S. Republican Party and to conservative causes, including Focus on the Family, the American Enterprise Institute. DeVos has supported the candidacies of Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich.[18][19] DeVos has served as a finance chairman for the Republican National Committee.[20]

DeVos was a long-time close friend of Gerald and Betty Ford, and was an honorary pallbearer at Gerald Ford's state funeral. Devos is an honorary trustee of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation.[21]

Personal life

In addition to Dan (owner of the Griffins), DeVos is 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 the then incumbent governor, Jennifer Granholm.[22]

DeVos has made it his mission to bring the Christian Reformed Church in North America and Reformed Church in America, which split in 1857 and divided his grandparents, back together.[23]

See also


  1. ^ "Helen DeVos, Philanthropist Focused on Health, Christian Education and the Arts, Dies at 90". The Washington Post. October 20, 2017. Retrieved October 21, 2017. 
  2. ^ "Forbes profile: Richard DeVos". Forbes. Retrieved 12 February 2018. 
  3. ^ Forbes magazine profile of Richard DeVos Forbes. Retrieved March 2012.
  4. ^ "The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography: Current volume". J.T. White. 20 October 1967. Retrieved 20 October 2017 – via Google Books. 
  5. ^ The Possible Dream, by Charles Paul Conn, page 6
  6. ^ Levin, Doron (October 8, 1997). "Fate, patience bring DeVos a new heart: Amway cofounder back after journey for life". Detroit Free Press. 
  7. ^ "Orlando Team Sold". New York Times. 1991-09-20. Retrieved 2010-07-27. 
  8. ^ "N.B.A. Orlando Team Sold". 20 September 1991. Retrieved 12 February 2018 – via 
  9. ^ "Nothing but the best for new arena: Look what your taxes helped buy". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved March 13, 2010. 
  10. ^ "National Constitution Center, Board of Trustees". National Constitution Center. 2010-07-26. Archived from the original on 2010-07-27. Retrieved 2010-07-27. 
  11. ^ "Christian Leaders Directory". Free Ministry Training – Ordination. Retrieved 2016-01-15. 
  12. ^ "Christian Leaders Institute". Christian Leaders Institute. 2012-05-07. Retrieved 2012-05-07. 
  13. ^ Estell, Kenneth (20 October 1998). "Foundation Reporter". Taft Group. Retrieved 20 October 2017 – via Google Books. 
  14. ^ Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation Archived July 25, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ The Grantsmanship Center. "Funding State by State". The Grantsmanship Center. 
  16. ^ a b "Updates on Past Winners, 2001–2013". 
  17. ^ Sport Business – About the DeVos Foundation Archived July 6, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ Bennett, Laurie (26 December 2011). "The Ultra-Rich, Ultra-Conservative DeVos Family". Forbes. Retrieved 28 November 2013. 
  19. ^ Confessore, Nicholas (16 December 2012). "Michigan Effort Shows G.O.P. Sway in State Contests". NYT. Retrieved 28 November 2013. 
  20. ^ "Richard M. DeVos Sr". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 28 November 2013. 
  21. ^ "Rich Devos".
  22. ^ "2006 Official Michigan General Election Results – Governor 4 Year Term (1) Position". Archived from the original on January 11, 2015. Retrieved 2010-01-26. 
  23. ^ Knape, Chris (May 19, 2009). "At 83, Amway co-founder Richard DeVos prepares company's third generation, addresses church, gay-marriage concerns". Michigan Live.

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