On October 18 Helen DeVos, 90, wife of Amway co-founder Rich DeVos, passed away at her Ada home after complications from a stroke. Her legacy, though, will continue to live on through her family and the contributions she’s given to not only the Grand Rapids Community, but also to Grand Valley State University.
She is survived by her husband, 4 children, 16 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren, who attended her funeral at the family’s Memorial Gardens on Saturday, 21 October.
The Life of Helen Devos
Helen was born in Grand Rapids, 24 February, 1927, and spent her life growing up within Michigan.
In 1953, she wed Rich DeVos and they moved to their current Ada home, just outside Grand Rapids.
Helen began as a teacher but when her husband’s company, Amway, began to expand, she left it to help him.
Together, the DeVos’ have given away millions of dollars to Grand Rapids foundations, particularly for the arts, music, education, health care, churches and service clubs. The Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital was named after Helen, their benefactor, as was the foundation connected to it.
Helen believed in her Christian faith and giving to others.
“It comes back to their belief that what they are given is not theirs, but they should be good stewards,” Cheri DeVos, daughter of Helen and Rich DeVos, said in an interview with MLive.
Contribution to Music and Arts at GVSU
Helen had a love for music from a young age and for many decades she was a major benefactor of the Grand Rapids Symphony and St Cecilia.
Due to her background as a teacher, Helen also believed in the power of education, which is why the DeVos family have donated $36 million to Grand Valley State University in the past 30 years. The DeVos family have also assisted in the building of the Richard M. DeVos Center, the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences, the L. William Seidman Center, and many other campaigns and projects.
“As a lifelong learner, she was a tremendous role model for our students and everyone she knew,” said Grand Valley President Thomas J. Haas, in a statement. “We will miss her kind and generous support and guidance over the years, as well as her friendship.”
Helen is honored by the university through the Helen DeVos Presidential Scholarship, granted to students who show passion for music and the arts.
This scholarship has given many students the opportunity to follow their dreams and continue on to a career they love.
Helen DeVos believed in Grand Valley State University and its students. She was a compassionate lady who will be sorely missed not just by the University, but by the whole of the Grand Rapids community.