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.
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.