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Acton Institute statement on Richard M. DeVos Sr. (1926-2018)

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Richard (Rich) M. DeVos exemplified the value of hard work, free enterprise and expansive philanthropy in building flourishing communities. The Acton Institute mourns the passing of DeVos, 92, who for decades was known for leadership in business, his dedication to the promotion of liberty, and his courage in maintaining and defending the free and virtuous society.

“Rich DeVos never shrank from the conviction that the roots of liberty and the morally-charged life are to be found in the eternal truths of the Judeo-Christian tradition,” said Rev. Robert A. Sirico, co-founder and president of Acton. “His entire life is a testament to putting those principles into concrete action.”

In 2010, Acton awarded DeVos its Faith and Freedom Award in recognition for his many achievements. He began his first business in the late 1940s, when he and friend Jay Van Andel became independent distributors for Nutrilite. The California manufacturer of vitamins used a person-to-person direct-selling approach that DeVos and Van Andel adopted when starting Amway from their Ada, Mich. homes in 1959. Together, they refined the direct-selling method of offering individuals the opportunity to build businesses of their own that became the model for scores of direct-selling companies and marked the start of a major worldwide direct-selling industry. Today, Amway is among the largest and most successful companies in the world.

Rich DeVos

In addition to his generous support of Christian causes and the American conservative tradition, DeVos is an accomplished author. Throughout his four books, DeVos presents his most poignant stories and important principles. The second of these books, Compassionate Capitalism, outlines 16 strategies for integrating compassion with free enterprise. A later work inspired by DeVos’ heart transplant, Hope from My Heart (1997), imparts ten lessons for life on subjects including persistence, confidence, optimism, respect, and faith. Former President Gerald R. Ford hailed the book “exciting, inspiring, and down-to-earth with God-given advice for everyone.

A testament to his dedication and courage, DeVos once famously remarked: “The only thing that stands between a man and what he wants from his life is often merely the will to try it and the faith to believe that it is possible.” It is this tenacity and conviction that has earned DeVos a place among Christians, among business executives, and among men.

Home page photo: Richard M. DeVos Center on Grand Valley State University Pew-Grand Rapids campus (wikicommons)


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    Rev. Robert Sirico Rev. Robert A. Sirico received his Master of Divinity degree from the Catholic University of America, following undergraduate study at the University of Southern California and the University of London. During his studies and early ministry, he experienced a growing concern over the lack of training religious studies students receive in fundamental economic principles, leaving them poorly equipped to understand and address today's social problems. As a result of these concerns, Fr. Sirico co-founded the Acton Institute with Kris Alan Mauren in 1990. As president of the Acton Institute, Fr. Sirico lectures at colleges, universities, and business organizations throughout the U.S. and abroad. His writings on religious, political, economic, and social matters are published in a variety of journals, including: the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, the London Financial Times, the Washington Times, the Detroit News, and National Review. Fr. Sirico is often called upon by members of the broadcast media for statements regarding economics, civil rights, and issues of religious concern, and has provided commentary for CNN, ABC, the BBC, NPR, and CBS' 60 Minutes, among others. In April of 1999, Fr. Sirico was awarded an honorary doctorate in Christian Ethics from the Franciscan University of Steubenville, and in May of 2001, Universidad Francisco Marroquin awarded him an honorary doctorate in Social Sciences. He is a member of the prestigious Mont Pèlerin Society, the American Academy of Religion, and the Philadelphia Society, and is on the Board of Advisors of the Civic Institute in Prague. Father Sirico also served on the Michigan Civil Rights Commission from 1994 to 1998. He is also currently serving on the pastoral staff of Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Fr. Sirico's pastoral ministry has included a chaplaincy to AIDS patients at the National Institute of Health and the recent founding of a new community, St. Philip Neri House in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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