Richard M. DeVos, the Amway Corporation co-founder who built and used one of the 20th century’s great personal fortunes to bolster the Republican Party, restore civic vitality to his hometown, Grand Rapids, Mich., and buy the Orlando Magic of the National Basketball Association, died on Thursday September 6 2018.
He supported the Heritage Foundation, the Federalist Society and Focus on the Family, and he was a member of the executive committee of the Council for National Policy, which, starting in the early 1980s, pushed to propel Christian values to the center of Republican activities nationally.
Mr. DeVos bought the Orlando Magic for $80 million in 1991. Since the purchase, the team has won five division championships and two Eastern Conference titles but has not won a championship. In 1998, Mr. DeVos purchased the Orlando Miracle of the W.N.B.A.
Met lifelong pal Jay Van Andel (d. 2004) in high school; duo opened drive-in diner after serving in Army together. Started selling all-purpose cleaner door-to-door 1959; eventually gave pyramid selling schemes a good name by turning an army of part-time entrepreneurs into door-to-door peddlers of cosmetics and nutritional supplements. Amway reorganized as Alticor 2000.
He and Van Andel both attended Calvin College, where Mr. DeVos met Helen Van Wesep, whom he married in 1953. Mr. Van Andel, who died in 2004,
Mr. DeVos is survived by three sons, Dick (Betsy DeVos’s husband), Dan and Doug; a daughter, Cheri DeVos; two sisters, Bernice Heys and Janice Courts; 16 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. His wife died in 2017.
Dick DeVos succeeded his father as president of Amway in 1993 and was followed by Doug DeVos in 2002. Steve Van Andel succeeded his father as chairman. In 2000 the families established Alticor, a new parent company, and Amway became one of three subsidiaries.