Info
Category:
Richest BusinessCEOs
Net Worth:
$6 Billion
Birthdate:
Mar 4, 1926 - Sep 6, 2018 (92 years old)
Birthplace:
Grand Rapids
Gender:
Male
Profession:
Businessperson, Writer
Nationality:
United States of America
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What Was Richard DeVos' Net Worth?

Richard DeVos was an American businessman and author who had a net worth of $6 billion at the time of his death in 2018. Richard DeVos co-founded the multi-level marketing company Amway with Jay Van Andel in 1959, and he owned the NBA team the Orlando Magic. In 2000, Amway was restructured as Alticor, and in 2019, Amway and its sister companies accrued $8.9 billion in sales, making it the world's largest multi-level marketing company in terms of revenue. In 2017, DeVos was ranked #107 on "Forbes" magazine's list of the 400 richest people in America, and in 2018, the publication ranked him #351 on its "World's Billionaires List." Richard wrote several books, including "Believe!" (1975), "Compassionate Capitalism" (1993), "Hope from My Heart: 10 Lessons for Life" (2000), and "Simply Rich: Life and Lessons from the Cofounder of Amway: A Memoir" (2014). DeVos died on September 6, 2018, at the age of 92.

Early Life

Richard DeVos was born Richard Marvin DeVos on March 4, 1926, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was the son of Dutch Americans Simon Cornelius DeVos and Ethel Ruth Dekker, who were employed in the electrical business. Richard attended Grand Rapids Christian School, then he enrolled at Calvin College, where he joined the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. During World War II, DeVos served in the United States Army Air Corps.

Amway

When his military service was over, Richard returned home, where he launched several businesses with his high school friend Jay Van Andel. They started a hamburger stand, a sailing business, and an air charter service, and in 1949, they signed up to be distributors of a nutritional supplement company called Nutrilite. In 1959, DeVos and Van Andel founded their own multi-level-marketing firm, Amway (American Way Association). Their first product was an organic house cleaner. They bought the rights to the product and distributed it through their sales channels. Over the next 50 years, Amway expanded to unfathomable heights, and in 2022, "Forbes" ranked it #53 on its list of "America's Largest Private Companies," with a revenue of $8.9 billion. Richard served as the company's president until 1993. DeVos bought the Orlando Magic NBA franchise for $85 million in 1991 after unsuccessfully trying to secure an MLB expansion franchise for the city. He had previously owned the International Hockey League franchises the Grand Rapids Griffins, Orlando Solar Bears, and Kansas City Blades. The Orlando Magic play at Amway Center, which opened in 2010.

Richard served on the board of trustees for Philadelphia's National Constitution Center and Michigan's Northwood University, and he was the president of the conservative organization the Council for National Policy. He also was a member of the Christian Leaders Institute legacy board. DeVos published several books, and in his 2000 book "Hope from My Heart: 10 Lessons for Life," he reflected on his experience of undergoing  a heart transplant in the U.K. in 1997 after being turned down in the U.S. due to his age and the fact that he had diabetes. In 2014, he published "Simply Rich: Life and Lessons from the Cofounder of Amway: A Memoir," in which he wrote about "work, faith, family, and the core values he's held on to, from his humble, Christian upbringing through his enormous success as cofounder of one of the world's largest businesses: Amway."

Richard DeVos

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Political Involvement

DeVos was a donor to the Republican Party and conservative causes such as Focus on the Family and the American Enterprise Institute, and he donated money to the campaigns of Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. He was a finance chairman for the Republican National Committee, and in 1987, he was appointed to the President's Commission on the HIV Epidemic by President Ronald Reagan. At the time, Richard earned criticism for saying that people with AIDS wanted "special treatment," and in a 2009 interview with "The Grand Rapids Press," when DeVos was asked why he donated $100,000 to an effort to prevent gay marriage from being recognized in Florida, he responded:

"Because I believe in it. That's just a sacred issue of respecting marriage. It was not an anti-gay thing. I have been hung in effigy by the gay community for a long time, from when I was on President Reagan's first AIDS commission."

Richard was a close friend of Gerald Ford, and he was an honorary pallbearer at Ford's state funeral and was involved with the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation as an honorary trustee.

In 1970, DeVos and his wife co-founded the conservative non-profit organization the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation. They were known for philanthropy and donated to the arts as well as educational, historic, and healthcare causes. The couple also established the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse (Hope College in Holland, Michigan), the Richard M. and Helen DeVos Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation (Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan), and the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Arts and Worship (Grand Rapids Christian Schools).

Personal Life

Richard married Helen Van Wesep in 1953, and they remained married until Helen's death in October 2017. The couple welcomed four children together, Dan, Richard Jr. (better known as "Dick"), Cheri, and Doug. Dan owns the hockey team the Grand Rapids Griffins, and Dick is the husband of Betsy DeVos, who served as the U.S. Secretary of Education during the Trump administration.

Richard was a devout Christian, and he joined the Christian Reformed Church in North America, a "diverse family of healthy congregations, assemblies, and ministries." During the last decade of his life, DeVos unsuccessfully tried to rejoin the Christian Reformed Church in North America with the Reformed Church in America due to a split that took place in 1857.

Death

On September 6, 2018, Richard passed away at his home in Ada, Michigan, at the age of 92. DeVos was surrounded by his family at the time of his death, and the cause was complications from an infection.

Awards and Achievements

DeVos was honored with the Norman Vincent Peale Award for Positive Thinking, American Marketing Association Edison Award, Salvation Army William Booth Award, The Philanthropy Roundtable William E. Simon Prize for Philanthropic Leadership, Napoleon Hill Gold Medal Award for Free Enterprise Achievement, Charles H. Hoeflich Lifetime Achievement Award, Direct Selling Education Foundation Circle of Honor Award, Michigan Republican House and Senate American Spirit Award, "Orlando Magazine" Best Corporate Citizen Award, and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Corporate Citizenship Award. Richard was inducted into the Junior Achievement National Business Hall of Fame and the Direct Selling Association Hall of Fame, and he received more than a dozen honorary doctorate degrees.

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