October 21, 2017 | Matt Kucinski


A love for students.

Those four words are central to Helen DeVos’ legacy at her alma mater. DeVos, 90, who  graduated in 1947 from Calvin College with a bachelor of arts degree in elementary education, died on Wednesday, October 18, 2017, following complications of a stroke.

“Helen had a tremendous love for Christ and one of the ways she knew she could love Christ in return is by loving others,” said Michael Le Roy, Calvin College president.

Helen and her husband Rich, both personally and through their foundation, expressed that love in many ways: funding scholarships for students, supporting centers and institutes, giving toward faculty research and underwriting lectures and other community events like the January Series.

They also provided major gifts on impressive building projects, including the Spoelhof Fieldhouse Complex that opened in 2009 providing state-of-the-art athletic, recreation and wellness facilities, and as the lead donor on the DeVos Communication Center, which, in 2002, extended the college’s academic space across the East Beltline. The space includes studios for film and media, smart classrooms and theaters. It is also home to the Paul B. Henry Institute and an on-campus speech pathology and audiology clinic.

“Helen has always had a deep love for Calvin students. She has demonstrated her commitment to young people at her alma mater time and time again, from creating spaces for students to study and gather, to supporting numerous scholarships, to providing opportunities to study off-campus and overseas,” said Le Roy. “Helen has also shown dedication to our faculty by contributing to their research and scholarship and supporting centers and institutes. She and Rich have made a significant contribution to the west Michigan community, and we are grateful for their longtime support of their alma mater.”

And while Le Roy is grateful for the difference Helen’s generosity has made in the life of Calvin students and faculty to date, he also said her impact will be felt for generations to come.

“Helen’s legacy lives on in the many students, faculty and staff she has inspired with her love for Christ and her generosity to Calvin College over several decades,” said Le Roy. “Helen’s family will be in our prayers as they mourn her loss and celebrate her life.”

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