If the name Helen DeVos sounds is familiar, that may be because the late DeVos was mother-in-law to Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education. Helen DeVos was a beloved philanthropist who supported many causes, but her first love was her family.
Helen DeVos was loved by her family and the people of Grand Rapids, Michigan and Central Florida for her philanthropic efforts and dedication to community, as reported by The Orlando Sentinel in the article, “Helen DeVos, wife of Orlando Magic owner Rich DeVos, dies at age 90.”
She was described as the heart of the DeVos family and of the Magic organization,” said Magic CEO Alex Martins. “She’s best known in Grand Rapids for being an incredible philanthropist, and I think that’s what she’s conveyed to us as an organization through 27 years.”
While much of Helen’s charitable work was in western Michigan, she and Rich DeVos also made a large impact in Central Florida. They founded the University of Central Florida’s DeVos Sport Business Management Graduate Program with a $2.5 million donation in 2000. They later gave another $6.5 million.
The family also donated $1 million to aid in the recovery efforts after several hurricanes and opened the RDV sports complex.
At Helen’s urging, the Orlando basketball team created the annual Rich & Helen DeVos Community Enrichment Award to honor the Magic player who makes the most significant impact through community service work. The winning player receives $50,000 to donate to the charity or charities of his choice.
DeVos is survived by her husband, along with four children and their spouses, Dick and Betsy, Dan and Pamella, Cheri, and Doug and Maria, and their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
One of Rich and Helen DeVos’ daughters-in-law is Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who was appointed to the Cabinet by President Trump.
The DeVos family embraced estate planning and restructured its ownership of the Magic group so that it remains in the family. Today, Rich and Helen’s children own the biggest stake in the franchise organization, and other generations in the family also have ownership shares.
Reference: Orlando Sentinel (October 19, 2017) “Helen DeVos, wife of Orlando Magic owner Rich DeVos, dies at age 90.”