Helen DeVos dies at 90 years old; visitation details released

Helen DeVos
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The DeVos family has announced the death of Helen DeVos, a philanthropist and the wife of Amway co-founder Rich DeVos.

In a release sent out early Thursday, Oct. 19, the family wrote, "While we grieve her passing, we rejoice in her new life in heaven and are grateful for the countless ways she blessed our lives. We are comforted in knowing that she was welcomed home into the loving arms of Jesus."

Visitation for Helen DeVos will be held on Monday from 2 to 8 pm in the Ambassador Ballroom of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in downtown Grand Rapids. That is also where a public Celebration of Life will be held on Tuesday, October 24th from 3:30 to 6:30 pm.  A private service will also be held on Tuesday. 

Devos passed away in Ada. 

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Among her many interests, Mrs. DeVos was well known as a supporter of symphony orchestras, especially for sharing her love of music in her hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich., through support of the Grand Rapids Symphony and the St. Cecilia Music Society. She served in numerous capacities since 1971 on the board of the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra and was an honorary board member and honorary executive board member. She and her husband were the founding sponsors of the symphony's DeVos Quartet and Artist in Residence program, and she was a life member of the Women's Committee. She served as a member and board member of the St. Cecilia Music Society from 1970-1974 and also served as a life member.

She also was an honorary board member for the League of American Orchestras in New York City, for which she served as a board member from 1982-1992, as vice chairman of the executive board from 1985-1992 and chairman of the nominating committee from 1989-1991. 

Her civic and community involvement in Grand Rapids included being honorary chairwoman of the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots campaign from 1981-1996 and committee service for the Holland Home, a group of Christian retirement homes, from 1986-1990. She served on the Grand Valley University Foundation Advisory Cabinet.

She was the namesake of the Helen DeVos Children's Hospital at Spectrum Health, Downtown Campus, in Grand Rapids and the Helen DeVos College of Education at Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn. These projects were made possible by The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, along with gifts from other charitable organizations and community members. 

 

She and Rich supported Christian education including Rehoboth Christian School, a K-12 school that has been providing opportunity for Native American children in New Mexico for over 100 years. Others include the Grand Rapids Christian Schools, the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Arts and Worship, and the DeVos Communications Center at Calvin College. In 2013, both Helen and Rich became Board of Trustee members at The King's College in New York City. 

Her many awards included the Gold Baton Award from the League of American Orchestras in 2012 as well as being honored at the League's 2007 National Conference by more than 1,500 delegates from orchestras around the country for her extraordinary support of the League and of her own orchestra in Grand Rapids, the 1991 and 2007 BRAVO! Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Grand Rapids Symphony, a Women of Distinction award from Palm Beach Atlantic University and a Trustees' Award for Distinguished Service from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. She also received the American Red Cross Circle of Humanitarians Award in 2005 and a Distinguished Women's Award from Northwood University in 1993. The DeVoses were co-recipients of the Charles H. Hoeflich Lifetime Achievement Award from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute in 2016, the Hillman Award from the Alliance for Health in 2012, Clare Boothe Luce Award from The Heritage Foundation in 2010, the Distinguished Citizens Award from the Gerald R. Ford Boy Scouts Council in 2003 and the Grand Rapids Arts Council Award in 1978. In 2014, the DeVos Family, headed by Mr. and Mrs. DeVos, was presented with the William F. Buckley Jr. Prize for Leadership in Supporting Liberty from the National Review Institute.

Mrs. DeVos was awarded an honorary doctor of humane letters from The King's College in 2013, an honorary doctor of arts degree from Grand Valley State University in 2010 and an honorary doctorate degree in humanities from Northern Michigan University in 1998.

She was a member of LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, where she served on several church committees from 1986-1990.

Born Helen J. Van Wesep on Feb. 24, 1927, in Grand Rapids, Mich., Mrs. DeVos graduated from Frankfort High School in Frankfort, Mich., and earned a degree from Calvin College. She married Rich DeVos on Feb. 7, 1953.

The DeVoses have four children, sixteen grandchildren. 

More on DeVos' legacy:

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