Northwood Mourns Passing of Richard DeVos

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An existential force in the development of Northwood University was lost this fall when Richard DeVos, 92, died Sept. 6 at his home in Ada, Michigan.

DeVos was the co-founder of Amway, co-owner of the Orlando Magic professional basketball franchise, and namesake of Northwood’s Richard DeVos Graduate School of Management Building.

“His success and his generosity will have a fundamental impact on our University for many, many years,” said Northwood President and CEO Dr. Keith Pretty.

In 1994, a grant from the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation allowed Northwood to establish The DeVos Graduate School of Management. DeVos said he made the gift “to perpetuate the education of business leaders with an understanding of democratic and compassionate capitalism and because Northwood University is the school with the most distinguished record of helping people learn to start and to own their own business.”

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His wife, Helen DeVos, died in 2017. They leave four children, including Daniel G. DeVos, a member of the Northwood Board of Trustees, and Dick DeVos, whose wife, Betsy, is the United States Secretary of Education.

DeVos and his high school friend Jay Van Andel co-founded Amway in 1959, working at first in a basement and later at a converted gas station. By 1980 the privately held company was a billion-dollar enterprise, selling a range of household products through a network of commission-incentivized distributors.

“We call our company Amway,” DeVos said, “because the American way of private ownership and free enterprise is the best way.” Our heartfelt condolences go out to the DeVos family, along with our sincere gratitude for the impact of the entire DeVos family on our institution