Had Dick DeVos absconded his self-appointed duty to change what he thinks is wrong, the Grand Rapids skyline will not look like what it is today. In 1991, he got hold of a plan to develop a sports arena in the city’s downtown. He was then about to be the CEO of Amway Corp., which his family owns. Dick started calling people who can stop the proposed development.
He was afraid that what happened to Detroit will happen to his beloved city. During the 1970s, the Pistons and the Lions abandoned Detroit. As a consequence, there were no more sports fans who went to and supported the Auburn Hills Palace and the Pontiac Silverdome because major sports events were no longer held in these sports arenas. Dick was worried that the same thing will happen to Detroit.
Dick said that he won’t forget the lesson of Detroit. His campaign against the sports complex was that spark that led to the creation of Grand Action, an organization of business tycoons. This group became the driving force that led to the construction of several Grand Rapids landmarks. They include the Performance Hall and Place Convention Center of the DeVos, the medical school of the University of Michigan, the City Market of Grand Rapids, the Van Andel Arena and many more. These edifices have effectively changed the skyline of Grand Rapids and the developmental direction eventually taken by the city.
Dick is married to Betsy DeVos, formerly Prince. Both are offspring of wealthy families and have spent most of their professional lives trying to change policies and institutions. Dick and Betsy are mega-donors of the Republican Party and as such have used their political influence to initiate significant change in labor and education state laws.
But their influence is not restricted to political causes. They are also active in supporting charitable causes and organizations. The two are the heads of the Dick & Betsy DeVos Family Foundation which have been reported to donate $138.7 million to churches, arts and culture, human and health services, policy initiatives and leadership programs.
The husband and wife team also greatly contributed to the construction of children’s hospital named after Helen DeVos, Dick’s mother. Dick and Betsy shouldered $12.5 million of the $103 million total cost of the hospital which operates under the Spectrum Health System of Grand Rapids.
Dick is happy to say that this hospital has enabled families to stay at home and for the parents of children patients not to take leave from work just to drive to Ann Arbor, Chicago or Mayo Clinic in order to receive health care. Incidentally, he is the chairman of the board at Spectrum.
Education is also something that is close to the heart of the DeVos. Reform in education is also one of the biggest initiatives of the couple. At the Grand Rapids International Airport, Dick has established a high school, aviation charter. Meanwhile, Betsy has been appointed Secretary of Education by President Trump because of her advocacy in education.
Follow Betsy DeVos on twitter.