On this day in 1926: Billionaire Richard DeVos Sr. born

    Richard DeVos Sr. | Facebook

    Richard DeVos Sr. was on born on March 4, 1926, in Grand Rapids.

    DeVos attended Calvin College and was a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity. He served in World War II in the U.S. Army Air Corps.

    DeVos became a billionaire businessman, co-founder of Amway with Jay Van Andel and owner of the National Basketball Association’s Orlando Magic basketball team. He co-founded the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation, an American conservative foundation and grant-making body in 1970.

    The DeVoses have played a huge role in Republican politics and the education choice movement both in Michigan and nationwide. They were the most generous Michigan family in the 2018 cycle, as the Advance reported, doling out more than $11 million primarily to Republicans and conservative causes.

    In 2012, Forbes magazine listed him as the 60th wealthiest person in the United States and the 205th richest in the world, with an estimated net worth of $5.1 billion.

    Betsy DeVos at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference | Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

    His son, Dick DeVos, unsuccessfully ran as a Republican for Michigan governor in 2006, losing to incumbent Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

    DeVos’ wife, Betsy DeVos, has been a powerhouse in state politics for many years. She’s a former Michigan Republican Party chair and the current U.S. Department of Education secretary.

    Helen DeVos died in 2017. Richard DeVos Sr. died last October at age 92.

    Ken Coleman
    Ken Coleman reports on Southeast Michigan, education, civil rights and voting rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.

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