Editorial: RIP Richard DeVos Sr.
Richard DeVos Sr.'s life was about so much more than soap.
The co-founder of Amway, who died Thursday at age 92, built a fortune with his business partner, the late Jay Van Andel. Promoting both household products and entrepreneurship, DeVos helped turn his company into one of the largest and most profitable multi-level marketing enterprises in the world. He also owned the Orlando Magic NBA franchise.
DeVos, father of former Michigan gubernatorial candidate Dick DeVos and father-in-law of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, was listed by Forbes as the 60th wealthiest person in America with a net worth of $5.1 billion.
It was what he did with his fortune that mattered.
DeVos is perhaps best known as a Republican funder; he gave millions to the party and its candidates. He also helped shaped the direction of the GOP, taking his inspiration from his close friend and fellow Grand Rapids native, President Gerald R. Ford. He pushed the party to stay true to free-market principles and advocated for what he called "compassionate capitalism."
He was an impressive philanthropist. The foundation he started with his late wife, Helen, supported a range of causes from education to health care to the arts.
Michigan will perhaps remember DeVos best for what he's done for his hometown.
DeVos led a group of businesspeople who transformed Grand Rapids with both their vision and their dollars. The state's second largest city now enjoys a vibrant downtown and a diverse and robust business community thanks in large part to the generosity of DeVos and his family.
Despite his great wealth and influence, he was a humble man, fully reflecting the values of his Christian faith. Known for his indefatigable optimism, DeVos lived for two decades with a transplanted heart he received at age 73.
It was a life well-lived, and one lived for others.