A Life Enricher

A Life Enricher

Success as an entrepreneur naturally evolved into Rich’s true calling—being a “life enricher.”

He was convinced that each ordinary person could be extraordinary. But just as he needed a spark of confidence and recognition from the affirming words of his father and high school Bible teacher, Rich also understood that the power of motivation and inspiration was the key to unleashing potential in others. The high school cheerleader was called to a role he seemed born to play—a motivator.


The speech that sealed his reputation as a master of the microphone was called “Selling America.” He counted America’s abundant blessings under free enterprise during a pessimistic era when many were touting socialism. He also put his thoughts on paper in his first book, Believe!  With no apology for flag waving or wearing his heart on his sleeve, he proclaimed how anyone can be successful with a belief in values, including unlimited potential, an upward look, God, church and family.

Photo Gallery: A Life Enricher

Husband and Wife

Rich and Helen's wedding photo from 1953. Rich and a friend were driving around Grand Rapids one day and met Helen and her friend as they were walking home. He got her phone number and soon began courting his future wife. A year later, on February 7, 1953, they were married.

Together by Land or by Sea

Rich, Helen, Dick, Dan, Cheri and Doug aboard one of the DeVos' early boats. The DeVos family has sailed all over the world, from their home waters of the Great Lakes to Pacific seas.

Family First

While Rich was recognized around the world as a business leader, he felt his most important roles were as a husband and father.

Surrounded by Family

Rich and Helen, surrounded by three generations – their children, grandchildren and first great-grandchild.

A Celebration

Rich and Helen with their son, Dan, and his wife, Pamella DeVos. An entrepreneur like his father, Dan went into business for himself after serving as an executive at Amway for many years.

The Next Generation

Four generations of the DeVos family. "Our love kept growing over the years, eventually spreading to include four children, their spouses, 16 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren," Rich once said.

Father and Son

Rich with his oldest son, Dick DeVos. Dick succeeded Rich as President of Amway in 1993 and led the company until 2002.

Family Values

Rich and Helen with one of their granddaughters. Rich believed in passing along values to his grandchildren, making a commitment to "talk to them about right and wrong and the values you hold to in life."

Sharing Faith

Rich with one of his granddaughters. He believed that it was important to ensure that "each generation is instilled with the faith and values that are at the heart of abundant lives and a moral society."

A Proud Grandfather

Rich during a day out with one of his grandsons. He was genuinely interested in what was going on in their lives and made a point to be involved with their activities.

A Gesture of Love

Rich, shown with one of his granddaughters, made it a priority to never take his family for granted, always ensuring his wife, children and grandchildren knew how much they meant to him.

A Family Affair

Rich with two of his grandsons. The Orlando Magic was more than a business for the DeVos family—it was a way for them to work and play together.

A Cheerleader

Rich during an outing with some of his grandchildren. He showed his support and enthusiasm for their interests during school sporting events, plays and other performances. "Like all grandparents, I always loved to watch my grandchildren at play."

"Praying For Each By Name"

Rich and Helen with some of their grandchildren. He once wrote of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren that they would "pray for them all every day – by name."

A Powerful Thing

Rich with two of his granddaughters. He once wrote, "Probably the most powerful thing we can say to our kids, next to 'I love you,' is 'I'm proud of you.'"

80 Years Young

Rich at his 80th birthday party in March 2006, straightening his grandson's tie.

"God Put Us Together"

Rich kept the psychology text book in which Helen's phone number was first written down. That led to their first date and more than 60 years of marriage.

Time With Family

Rich at his 80th birthday celebration, blowing out the candles on his cake with one of his granddaughters. He believed that there was no substitute for quality time spent with his family.

Surrounded By Love

Rich celebrated his 80th birthday in March 2006, right where he loved to be most -- with family.

Magical Moment

Rich with daughter Cheri. Cheri worked with Rich at Amway and later led the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation.

Youthful Candor

Rich talking to students at Pinewood Elementary School in Jenison, Michigan, about his heart transplant and the will to overcome great odds in life.

Grandchildren

Photo of Rich and Helen with all their grandchildren.

Her Opinion Mattered Most

Rich and Helen. For Helen to be proud of him meant more to Rich than receiving a standing ovation during one of his widely celebrated speeches.

Following in His Footsteps

Rich with son Dan DeVos. Like his father, Dan became a successful entrepreneur.

A Matter of Degree

More than a dozen colleges and universities recognized Rich with honorary doctorate degrees.

A Positive Atmosphere

Rich attributed his optimism and can-do attitude to growing up in a positive atmosphere, calling it a blessing.

Source of Joy

Rich said his and Helen's biggest source of joy was their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Here Rich and son Doug share a tender moment.

Gathered Together

Three generations of the DeVos family gather for a family dinner.

Four Generations

Three Richard DeVoses – Rich, Dick and Rick – celebrate the birth of Rick's child.

Eventually it was a passage he came across by Walt Disney that crystallized the philosophy Rich had been promoting for nearly 30 years. Disney described three types of people: well poisoners (those critical of any ambition or dream), lawn mowers (good citizens but people who never reach out to others), and life enhancers (people who have a positive impact on their world). Rich altered the term to call himself a “life enricher.” He spoke to crowds across the country about their potential power to enrich lives through an encouraging word or deed.

“A constant in my life has been maintaining a positive attitude and affirming others,” Rich once said. “I’ve tried all my life to inspire others to use their talents and fulfill their potential.”

Being a life enricher also was a natural outgrowth of his Christian faith. As he wrote in Believe!, “I believe every person on earth is a creature of God, here for a purpose and worthy of respect.”

A lighter expression of his role as a life enricher was the closing he adopted for his notes and letters and that became his trademark. He signed all his correspondence with “Love ya” to express a feeling stronger than “sincerely.” “I don’t really know what sincerely is supposed to mean,” he said. “But ‘Love ya’ sends a definite message.”

Rich never neglected his role of life enricher with his own family. Referring to him and Helen raising children, he once said: “Our children always knew they were loved. We told them and showed them in as many ways as we knew how that we believed in them and we were proud of them.”

He spoke with pride about his children’s faith, values and careers. Just before his heart transplant, when asked by his surgeon his reasons for wanting to keep living, Rich answered that he wanted to see his grandchildren grow up.

Rich was preceded in death by his wife, Helen, in October 2017. He will be greatly missed by their children and their spouses Dick and Betsy, Dan and Pamella, Cheri, and Doug and Maria; grandchildren and their spouses Rick and Melissa, Elissa and Nate, Andrea and Michael, Ryan, Cassandra and Heath, Sydney and Andrew, Cole, Hannah, Katie, Ben, Jessa, Addie, Dalton, Micaela and Jordan, Monreau, and Olivia; and great-grandchildren Clara, Sloane, Remington, Richard, Wilhelmina, Aurelia, Taggart and Riven.  

As he once said, “The amount of money we’ve got hasn’t made us any happier. The number of grandchildren we have has made us happier. And so, we are very rich. But we are rich because of our children.”

Video: A Gift from God

The Importance of One Line

Rich remembered a note written in his high school yearbook by a Bible teacher who believed that Rich had "talents for leadership in God's kingdom." He said that this one line—in the face of a belief that he was a bad student with limited potential—greatly impacted the direction of his life.


He was convinced that each ordinary person could be extraordinary. But just as he needed a spark of confidence and recognition from the affirming words of his father and high school Bible teacher, Rich also understood that the power of motivation and inspiration was the key to unleashing potential in others. The high school cheerleader was called to a role he seemed born to play—a motivator.


The speech that sealed his reputation as a master of the microphone was called “Selling America.” He counted America’s abundant blessings under free enterprise during a pessimistic era when many were touting socialism. He also put his thoughts on paper in his first book, Believe!  With no apology for flag waving or wearing his heart on his sleeve, he proclaimed how anyone can be successful with a belief in values, including unlimited potential, an upward look, God, church and family.

Photo Gallery: A Life Enricher

Husband and Wife

Rich and Helen's wedding photo from 1953. Rich and a friend were driving around Grand Rapids one day and met Helen and her friend as they were walking home. He got her phone number and soon began courting his future wife. A year later, on February 7, 1953, they were married.

Together by Land or by Sea

Rich, Helen, Dick, Dan, Cheri and Doug aboard one of the DeVos' early boats. The DeVos family has sailed all over the world, from their home waters of the Great Lakes to Pacific seas.

Family First

While Rich was recognized around the world as a business leader, he felt his most important roles were as a husband and father.

Surrounded by Family

Rich and Helen, surrounded by three generations – their children, grandchildren and first great-grandchild.

A Celebration

Rich and Helen with their son, Dan, and his wife, Pamella DeVos. An entrepreneur like his father, Dan went into business for himself after serving as an executive at Amway for many years.

The Next Generation

Four generations of the DeVos family. "Our love kept growing over the years, eventually spreading to include four children, their spouses, 16 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren," Rich once said.

Father and Son

Rich with his oldest son, Dick DeVos. Dick succeeded Rich as President of Amway in 1993 and led the company until 2002.

Family Values

Rich and Helen with one of their granddaughters. Rich believed in passing along values to his grandchildren, making a commitment to "talk to them about right and wrong and the values you hold to in life."

Sharing Faith

Rich with one of his granddaughters. He believed that it was important to ensure that "each generation is instilled with the faith and values that are at the heart of abundant lives and a moral society."

A Proud Grandfather

Rich during a day out with one of his grandsons. He was genuinely interested in what was going on in their lives and made a point to be involved with their activities.

A Gesture of Love

Rich, shown with one of his granddaughters, made it a priority to never take his family for granted, always ensuring his wife, children and grandchildren knew how much they meant to him.

A Family Affair

Rich with two of his grandsons. The Orlando Magic was more than a business for the DeVos family—it was a way for them to work and play together.

A Cheerleader

Rich during an outing with some of his grandchildren. He showed his support and enthusiasm for their interests during school sporting events, plays and other performances. "Like all grandparents, I always loved to watch my grandchildren at play."

"Praying For Each By Name"

Rich and Helen with some of their grandchildren. He once wrote of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren that they would "pray for them all every day – by name."

A Powerful Thing

Rich with two of his granddaughters. He once wrote, "Probably the most powerful thing we can say to our kids, next to 'I love you,' is 'I'm proud of you.'"

80 Years Young

Rich at his 80th birthday party in March 2006, straightening his grandson's tie.

"God Put Us Together"

Rich kept the psychology text book in which Helen's phone number was first written down. That led to their first date and more than 60 years of marriage.

Time With Family

Rich at his 80th birthday celebration, blowing out the candles on his cake with one of his granddaughters. He believed that there was no substitute for quality time spent with his family.

Surrounded By Love

Rich celebrated his 80th birthday in March 2006, right where he loved to be most -- with family.

Magical Moment

Rich with daughter Cheri. Cheri worked with Rich at Amway and later led the Orlando Magic Youth Foundation.

Youthful Candor

Rich talking to students at Pinewood Elementary School in Jenison, Michigan, about his heart transplant and the will to overcome great odds in life.

Grandchildren

Photo of Rich and Helen with all their grandchildren.

Her Opinion Mattered Most

Rich and Helen. For Helen to be proud of him meant more to Rich than receiving a standing ovation during one of his widely celebrated speeches.

Following in His Footsteps

Rich with son Dan DeVos. Like his father, Dan became a successful entrepreneur.

A Matter of Degree

More than a dozen colleges and universities recognized Rich with honorary doctorate degrees.

A Positive Atmosphere

Rich attributed his optimism and can-do attitude to growing up in a positive atmosphere, calling it a blessing.

Source of Joy

Rich said his and Helen's biggest source of joy was their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Here Rich and son Doug share a tender moment.

Gathered Together

Three generations of the DeVos family gather for a family dinner.

Four Generations

Three Richard DeVoses – Rich, Dick and Rick – celebrate the birth of Rick's child.

Eventually it was a passage he came across by Walt Disney that crystallized the philosophy Rich had been promoting for nearly 30 years. Disney described three types of people: well poisoners (those critical of any ambition or dream), lawn mowers (good citizens but people who never reach out to others), and life enhancers (people who have a positive impact on their world). Rich altered the term to call himself a “life enricher.” He spoke to crowds across the country about their potential power to enrich lives through an encouraging word or deed.

“A constant in my life has been maintaining a positive attitude and affirming others,” Rich once said. “I’ve tried all my life to inspire others to use their talents and fulfill their potential.”

Being a life enricher also was a natural outgrowth of his Christian faith. As he wrote in Believe!, “I believe every person on earth is a creature of God, here for a purpose and worthy of respect.”

A lighter expression of his role as a life enricher was the closing he adopted for his notes and letters and that became his trademark. He signed all his correspondence with “Love ya” to express a feeling stronger than “sincerely.” “I don’t really know what sincerely is supposed to mean,” he said. “But ‘Love ya’ sends a definite message.”

Rich never neglected his role of life enricher with his own family. Referring to him and Helen raising children, he once said: “Our children always knew they were loved. We told them and showed them in as many ways as we knew how that we believed in them and we were proud of them.”

He spoke with pride about his children’s faith, values and careers. Just before his heart transplant, when asked by his surgeon his reasons for wanting to keep living, Rich answered that he wanted to see his grandchildren grow up.

Rich was preceded in death by his wife, Helen, in October 2017. He will be greatly missed by their children and their spouses Dick and Betsy, Dan and Pamella, Cheri, and Doug and Maria; grandchildren and their spouses Rick and Melissa, Elissa and Nate, Andrea and Michael, Ryan, Cassandra and Heath, Sydney and Andrew, Cole, Hannah, Katie, Ben, Jessa, Addie, Dalton, Micaela and Jordan, Monreau, and Olivia; and great-grandchildren Clara, Sloane, Remington, Richard, Wilhelmina, Aurelia, Taggart and Riven.  

As he once said, “The amount of money we’ve got hasn’t made us any happier. The number of grandchildren we have has made us happier. And so, we are very rich. But we are rich because of our children.”

Video: A Gift from God

The Importance of One Line

Rich remembered a note written in his high school yearbook by a Bible teacher who believed that Rich had "talents for leadership in God's kingdom." He said that this one line—in the face of a belief that he was a bad student with limited potential—greatly impacted the direction of his life.


  Up Next: A Man of Faith »

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Information on events to celebrate the life of Rich DeVos.

Tributes to Rich DeVos

People from all around the world have shared memories, stories and messages about the impact Rich DeVos had on them.

Rich DeVos believed that true wealth came from spirituality and family. Thank you for choosing to donate to one of the organizations Rich supported in his lifetime.