SAN FRANCISCO (#1097) – Word has just come from Michigan that the patriarch of the DeVos family and co-founder of Amway Corp. has died. A devout Christian and unapologetic champion of free enterprise, Rich was an eternal optimist who was always the happiest, most enthusiastic person in the room regardless of the setting.
Your Ed. can attest as I got to know "Uncle Rich" (as he liked to be called) very well, indeed had the privilege of working for and with him in 1985 when he became chairman of the New York Yacht Club's 1987 America's Cup syndicate, the AMERICA II Challenge, for which I was Executive Director.
Mr DeVos was a kind and generous man. I last saw him in 2007 in Valencia where he had assembled his British doctors and family to celebrate the 10th anniversary of his heart/lung transplant. It was an amazing and poignant dinner of family and friends on an upper terrace of the Veles e Vents building overlooking the America's Cup harbor. At the time he was among the longest-living heart-transplant recipients, and that was 11 years ago.
As many of our Dear Readers will know Rich's younger son Doug DeVos is a keen racing sailor who campaigns the TP52 Quantum Racing in the SuperSeries in the Med, and the maxi WINDQUEST in the Great Lakes. Doug is also principal of NYYC's current American Magic challenge for the 2021 America's Cup.
Mr DeVos' daughter-in-law Betsy DeVos is the Trump administration's Secretary of Education.
According to the MLIve.com website, "DeVos was known as a successful businessman, philanthropist, political contributor and community leader....DeVos and his family members handed out $104 million in charitable donations in 2015, landing the family in 24th place on Forbes' most recent 'America's Top Givers' list. Forbes estimated the extended DeVos family's lifetime giving totaled $1.33 billion." Read the full article on his remarkable life here.
When Uncle Rich called or wrote he almost always ended with his signature, "LoveYa." I will recall a few other fond memories of Mr DeVos on tomorrow's webcast, "TGIF with TFE" at 1300 PDT – as always on our Sailing Illustrated Facebook page.
May he rest in peace. #LoveYaRich