Dick DeVos, a Grand Rapids native, is the former president of Amway Corp. and current CEO of Windquest. Group. He is the son of Michigan billionaire Rich DeVos, co-founder of Amway Corp. and husband of Betsy DeVos, the current education secretary of Trump administration. Recently he was appointed to the top board of Federal Aviation Administration along with seven other new members and tasked with overseeing the policy, spending and regulatory matters. This was no surprise considering how he talked CEO of AirTran Airways into running non-stop flights to and from the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids. After that, DeVos talked with Southwest, another airliner, and convinced them to expand their services to West Michigan. Following his initiative the airport went through a sharp turn in fortunes and due to undergo a $45 million makeover by 2018.
Earlier in 1991, while working as the CEO of Amway Corp. Dick DeVos voted against the idea of building a multi-purpose sports arena in Grand Rapids. He feared that the facility would counter-productive for Grand Rapids and cited a reference from Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit, a failure of massive scale. Later his decision to stave off the construction of a sports facility outside the main district paid dividends as it led to the formation of Grand Action, an initiative that was the driving force behind the construction of several mega projects, namely the Van Andel Arena, the DeVos performance hall, and the DeVos Place convention center.
While Dick and Betsy devoted much of their time during the past few decades in trying to change the policy and institutions around the country and especially Michigan, their generous GOP donation is considered to be their main contributions towards the society. In fact, this wealthy couple and their families have donated around $138.7 million over the past few decades to leadership programs, a scholarship program in schools and health services. In 2006 Dick DeVos donated $12.5 million towards the construction of a state of the art children hospital in Michigan named after his mother, Helen DeVos.
In an interview, Dick DeVos stated, “The children’s hospital now has allowed families to remain at home and for parents not have to take time off work to drive to Mayo (Clinic), or Chicago or Ann Arbor or wherever the case may be to receive care.”
Dick DeVos also founded an Aviation Charter High School in Grand Rapids and often claim that he expects children from poor households to receive the same education as his children did. But his philosophy regarding education wasn’t always welcomed by the general people as there was a fierce protest against his idea of funneling tax money to create vouchers so that kids can attend private school. In 2006 Dick ran for the governorship in Michigan and lost a quite costly battle with Jennifer Granholm. But that setback didn’t deter Dick from pursuing other targets as the couple gradually rose through the ranks over the years and gained considerable political prowess. Besides, their advocacy towards vouchers for private school gained some momentum because as of now 24 states around the country have vouchers in place for private school. Dick DeVos considers this to be a moral and strategic victory over his detractors.
Follow Dick DeVos on Facebook.