Rich DeVos Was a Champion For the Betterment of Orlando

by John Denton

ORLANDO – Rich DeVos, a legendary businessman, philanthropist and owner of the Orlando Magic, died today at his home in Ada, Mich., from complications stemming from an infection. He was 92 years old.

In addition to owning the Magic since September of 1991 and relentlessly working to save professional basketball in Central Florida, DeVos was a champion for the betterment of Orlando and donated millions of dollars to the city through various charitable ventures. Under DeVos’ leadership, the Magic’s mission has always been ``to be world champions on and off the court, delivering legendary moments every step of the way.’’ In DeVos’ time as the team’s owner, the Magic have won five division championships (1995, 1996, 2008, 2009, 2010), had seven 50-plus win seasons and captured Eastern Conference titles in 1995 and 2009. In 2016, DeVos was inducted into the Orlando Magic Hall of Fame.

``Mr. DeVos' boundless generosity, inspirational leadership and infectious enthusiasm will always be remembered. Simply, he was the team's No. 1 cheerleader and the best owner that a Magic fan could ever want for their team,’’ Magic CEO Alex Martins said in a release on Thursday. ``When the DeVos Family purchased the Magic, his vision was that the team and organization would serve as a platform to improve the Central Florida community. That legacy will certainly live on, both in the Orlando Magic's community efforts and philanthropic contributions, as well as in the way we strive to play the game with passion, a strong work ethic and integrity, while also bringing people together from all walks of life.’’

Mr. DeVos’ death comes nearly 11 months after the passing of Helen DeVos, his wife of 63 years. The Magic wore a commemorative patch honoring Mrs. DeVos last season and will undoubtedly do the same this season to honor their owner of the past 27 seasons.

Dan DeVos, son of Rich and Helen, has been chairman of the Magic and Orlando Solar Bears since 2011. On Thursday, his family released a statement lauding Mr. DeVos for his family leadership, loving heart and charitable nature. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that memorial contributions be made to Grand Rapids Christian School Association, Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church or Prison Fellowship Ministries.

Our father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, Rich DeVos, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his family on September 6, 2018, at age 92.

``Dad spread positivity everywhere he went and encouraged everyone he met,’’ read the joint statement from Dick, Dan, Cheri and Doug DeVos. ``He did that for his children and grandchildren, and for countless others around the world. His positivity was a constant, motivating force that inspired many others to make meaningful changes in their own lives and communities. He was a visionary leader, builder, life enricher, motivator, and a champion for people from all walks of life.

``Rich DeVos was many things to many people, but to us he was simply `Dad,’ `Grandpa,’ `Bumpa,’ or `Papa Great,’’’ the family statement continued. ``We are deeply grateful and blessed beyond measure to have been loved unconditionally, raised, mentored, and inspired by him. He was a role model unlike any other.… While we are saddened by his passing, our hearts are full as we celebrate the extraordinary life he led. We are comforted that he is reunited with Mom, and that together they are experiencing the joy of eternal life with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.’’

Mr. DeVos isbest known worldwide as a co-founder of Amway and a pioneer of the famous direct-selling method that offered individuals the opportunity to build businesses of their own.A recipient of the Horatio Alger Award, Mr. DeVos’s life embodied the American dream of humble beginnings turned to great success through determined effort.

Born March 4, 1926, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, DeVos lived through the Great Depression before ultimately becoming one of the most successful businessmen in American history. In 1949, DeVos and close friend Jay Van Andel invested $49 and became highly successful independent distributors for Nutrilite, a manufacturer and direct seller of vitamins. The California manufacturer of vitamins used a person-to-person selling approach that the partners later adopted when starting Amway from their homes in Ada, Michigan, in 1959, with an all-purpose cleaner, L.O.C., as their only product.

Over five decades, they built their business into a multi-billion-dollar international corporation and the world’s leading direct selling company. Mr. DeVos was Amway president from the company’s founding until 1993, when he was succeeded by his son, Dick, and in 2002 by his son, Doug.

``Rich and my father built this company from the ground up, and in many ways, Rich was the heart and soul of Amway,’’ Amway Chairman Steve Van Andel said. ``His vision and spirit inspired our employees and independent business owners for more than 50 years. No one even comes close to Rich in the love he inspired in the hearts and minds of our family of employees and business owners. We will miss him terribly.’’

In addition to being a prolific author who penned five books, DeVos was also a noted philanthropist who donated millions of dollars to various causes in Michigan and Central Florida.

The DeVos family regularly supported numerous civic, educational and religious organizations in the Orlando area. Under his direction, the Magic support the local community through sponsorships of events, donated tickets, autographed merchandise, and grants. In addition, over the last 28 years, various local nonprofit community organizations have received support through the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation which serves at-risk youth and has impacted more than one million children. Magic community relations programs annually impact an estimated 100,000 kids each year, while the Magic Volunteer Program (MVP), an organizational staff-wide initiative, provides more than 7,000 community volunteer hours annually.

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