Businessman. Activist. Philanthropist. Dick Devos has been all these things and more. Along with his wife Betsy, he has created a legacy of accomplishment that stretches from his hometown of Grand Rapids to the entire country.
This legacy began a few years before Devos would become the CEO of his family’s Amway Corp. It was 1991 and Devos came out vocally against the construction of an arena outside of downtown Grand Rapids, thinking that it would hurt the city in the same way suburban sport facilities had hurt Detroit.
His efforts would lead to the creation of Grand Action, in which a group of local businessmen would guide the development of a wide range of important projects in Grand Rapids. Projects that would revitalize the city. This includes the DeVos Place Convention Center and the DeVos Performance Hall, as well as the Van Andel Arena, the Grand Rapids City Market and the medical school at Michigan State University. Devos also played a major role in the growth of the Grand Rapids International Airport.
But his influence didn’t stop at the city limits. He and his wife have been responsible for creating change that has affected the entire state of Michigan. In 2012, he was a driving force in converting one of strongest union states in the country into a right-to-work state. And his wife Betsy has been instrumental in the expansion of charter schools across the state and throughout the country. This directly led to President Trump selecting her as his Education Secretary this past year. Dick also has taken a role in the federal government, having recently been appointed to a board that oversees the Federal Aviation Administration.
The power couple have also been accomplished philanthropists. The Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation has given more than $130 million to a variety of charitable projects, which include leadership programs, arts and culture, health and human services, churches, and policy initiatives. They also gave more than $12 million toward the building of a children’s hospital in Grand Rapids.
The two see their political activism and charitable giving as having the same goal: helping poor children to receive the same opportunities as everyone else.
There are followers and then there are leaders. Dick Devos and his wife have been two of the latter, with a outstretched legacy that will live on well past them.
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