Orlando Magic owner Richard M. DeVos, a World War II veteran and one of the world’s wealthiest people, died on Thursday at age 92 due to complications from an infection, the team announced.
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) September 6, 2018
A child of the Great Depression who grew up in Grand Rapids, Mich., and served in the U.S. Army Air Corps from 1944-46, DeVos co-founded Amway with high school classmate Jan Van Andel, and the pair grew the pyramid sales corporation into a multi-billion-dollar global industry. Also the former owner of multiple minor-league franchises in baseball and hockey, DeVos purchased the Magic for $85 million in 1991, a year before the fledgling franchise landed Shaquille O’Neal with a No. 1 pick.
“Mr. DeVos’ boundless generosity, inspirational leadership and infectious enthusiasm will always be remembered. Simply, he was the team’s No. 1 cheerleader and the best owner that a Magic fan could ever want for their team,” Magic CEO Alex Martins said in a statement. “When the DeVos family purchased the Magic, his vision was that the team and organization would serve as a platform to improve the Central Florida community. That legacy will certainly live on, both in the Orlando Magic’s community efforts and philanthropic contributions, as well as in the way we strive to play the game with passion, a strong work ethic and integrity, while also bringing people together from all walks of life.”
Devos’ wife, Helen, died from a stroke in October 2017. The couple leaves behind four children: Dick, Dan, Cheri and Doug. Dick, whose wife Betsy currently serves as U.S. Secretary of Education, won the Republican nomination for Governor of Michigan in 2006, but lost to the incumbent Democrat. Dan is the current chairman of the Magic. Cheri and Doug are executives for the Amway corporation.
In addition to founding Amway and owning the Magic, DeVos served on Ronald Reagan’s AIDS commission,the National Republican Congressional Committee’s advisory board and as the Republican National Committee’s finance chairman. According to the Magic’s press release, he was a friend to U.S. presidents Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.