In Memoriam - Helen Devos Philanthropy and Faith


Helen DeVos believed that both giving and serving were essential to a well-lived life. Her caring focus upheld her deeply held values of family, community, and education. Through her support, Helen shared her love for music and the arts, as well her devotion to relieving hunger, improving healthcare, and strengthening education. Helen passed away on Oct. 18, leaving behind an unparalleled legacy of philanthropy and faith. Helen's son, Dick DeVos said," My family and I mourn the loss of my mother, Helen DeVos. We also celebrate her incredible life. She was amazing. As a mother, wife, grandmother, great-grandmother, teacher, and philanthropist, she always cared and helped develop the best in others."

Helen and her husband, Amway co-founder Richard M. DeVos, made a commitment to giving early in their marriage. As they worked hard to raise a family and build an international business together, Helen and Rich never wavered in their desire to reach out and give back. Over the years, the DeVos family has given away $1.2 billion, mainly through the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation. A multitude of community organizations – including hospitals, symphonies, universities, K-12 schools, and churches – publicly recognized her philanthropic efforts. However, Helen found a simple and selfless joy in seeing the difference that sharing her time, talent, and support could make in improving the lives of others. In 1993, Northwood was honored to present Helen with our Distinguished Women Award.

The difference that Helen and Rich made to Northwood is immeasurable. Their belief in the engaged and values-driven education that is fundamental to our vision was instrumental in Northwood Institute becoming a well-respected university with an outstanding graduate school that carries their name, the DeVos Graduate School. Helen and Rich last visited campus in May of 2016 for the dedication of the new state-of-the-art, modern Richard DeVos Graduate School of Management building.

Helen and Rich shared their personal values and dedication to Northwood University with family, too. Their sons, Dick and Dan, and granddaughter Cassie, all graduated from Northwood, where they have continued the family’s legacy of philanthropy through generous contributions to the University. The Northwood community celebrates Helen’s life of leadership, service, and generosity. She exemplified the positive impact heartfelt giving can make every day.

“The loss of our mother has been difficult for the entire family, but her legacy will live on. She was always focused on her faith, family, and community,” said her son Dan DeVos. “Being a former teacher, she was also committed to education at every level. She was a strong believer in the Northwood Idea and how Northwood graduates would make a positive impact throughout the world. We will always miss you, Mom.”