Helen Van Wesep ’47 called her undergraduate years at Calvin “a wonderful experience for an only child.” An education major, she taught elementary school—until she met and married Rich DeVos. She then became his quiet business partner and the typist for Amway, the direct-sales company he co-founded with Jay Van Andel and operated out of their basement laundry room. As four children were born, she gave up the typing but continued to advise her husband on a business that would become an international success. Rich credits Helen with insisting the young family tithe their income, and, as the business grew, “pushing us to give more and do more.”
While the Rich and Helen DeVos Foundation has underwritten many endeavors, Helen was particularly keen to support the Grand Rapids Symphony, the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, and Christian education—including her alma mater. That support took shape in buildings, scholarships, faculty research projects, centers, and institutes.
She died Oct. 18 of complications from a stroke at her home not far from Calvin’s campus.
“Helen had a tremendous love for Christ, and one way she knew she could love Christ is by loving others,”said Calvin President Michael Le Roy. “Her legacy lives on in the many students, faculty, and staff she inspired with her love for Christ and her generosity to Calvin College over several decades.”