Christian Philanthropist Helen DeVos Left Legacy in Art, Education


Helen DeVos, a philanthropist who supported a variety of Christian and conservative causes, died Wednesday, Oct. 19. She was 90.

A statement released by the family said, “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.”

Helen DeVos was the wife of Rich DeVos, one of the founders of the Amway Corporation. Among the many causes she and her husband supported were symphony orchestras. She was a major donor to her hometown orchestra, the Grand Rapids Symphony, and she served many years on the organization’s board of directors. According to Grand Rapids television station WZZM, “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.”

She also contributed heavily to Christian colleges and universities. Colleges that benefited from her gifts included Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Lee University in Tennessee, and The King’s College in New York City.

Helen DeVos, like the entire DeVos family, was active in conservative causes and Republican politics. She supported many conservative organizations, including The Heritage Foundation, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and the National Review Institute. She was the mother-in-law of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

Dr. Gregory Thornbury, president of The King’s College, said in an e-mail to the Colson Center, “Helen DeVos characterized the fruits of the Spirit in a way that spurred on all those who surrounded her to be more like Jesus. A devoted student of the Scriptures, she shone with the light of God’s love—a light reflected in her kindness, generosity, wisdom, and intelligence. She will be greatly missed.”

DeVos is survived by her husband Rich, to whom she had been married for more than 60 years. She also leaves behind four children, 16 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Images courtesy of YouTube and Wikimedia. Illustration designed by Heidi Allums.

Warren Cole Smith is an investigative journalist and author as well as the Colson Center vice president for mission advancement.

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