Helen DeVos, who died on Wednesday, Oct. 18, at 90, will be remembered enduringly at Hope College for her transformative impact on the campus and students’ education.
Hometown and visiting fans experience it every time they enjoy a game or other event at the Richard and Helen DeVos Fieldhouse, or a concert in the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts. Each year, hundreds of students also complement her extensive philanthropy themselves through the student-organized Dance Marathon, which since 2000 has raised funds for Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids.
“Helen DeVos was a tremendous friend to the West Michigan community throughout her life, and was especially dedicated to children and education,” said the Rev. Dr. Dennis N. Voskuil, president of Hope College. “She believed in Hope’s mission and supported our commitment to the Christian faith. Hope students benefit daily from her generosity, which will make a difference at the college for generations to come. We celebrate her lasting legacy even as we mourn her death and extend sympathy to her husband Richard and members of their family.”
The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation contributed a leadership gift on behalf of the fieldhouse, and the college named the building for Richard and Helen in honor of their impact on the quality of life in western Michigan, in the Holland community and at Hope. The fieldhouse serves as home court for the college’s men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball teams, and also houses the Department of Kinesiology. The couple presented the game ball for the men’s basketball game during the dedication of the building on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2005.
The foundation also provided one of the lead gifts for the Jack H. Miller Center for Musical Arts, which opened in August 2015, and the building’s 800-seat Concert Hall is dedicated in memory of Helen’s parents, George and Wilma Van Wesep. The accompanying plaque notes: "As educators who filled their home with music, love and Christian values, they created an environment for their only child, Helen Van Wesep DeVos, to delvelop her own lifelong love of music." In addition to the Concert Hall, the silver LEED-certified center houses the college’s Department of Music and the 125-seat John and Dede Howard Recital Hall.