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Helen DeVos, who backed health and education causes, dies at 90

Associated Press 

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Helen J. DeVos, a philanthropist from western Michigan known for her support of children’s health, Christian education, and the arts, has died at age 90, her family said Thursday.

Mrs. DeVos died Wednesday of complications from a stroke following a recent diagnosis of myeloid leukemia, her family said. She was the wife of Rich DeVos, who cofounded direct-sales company Amway and owns the Orlando Magic, and was the mother-in-law of US Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

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‘‘We will never forget her unfailing love, strength, and devotion that were truly the heart of our family,’’ Rich DeVos and other family members said in a prepared statement.

Helen DeVos was born in Grand Rapids, where a children’s hospital is named after her. She married Rich DeVos in 1953 and volunteered her time and leadership — as well the support of the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation — to an array of causes, including Christian churches and ministries.

‘‘Her steadfast commitment to helping others can be seen every day in many ways, but particularly as families are cared for during some of their most challenging times at the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital,’’ Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said in a statement.

Helen DeVos and her husband supported Grand Rapids Christian schools, including the Richard and Helen DeVos Center for Arts and Worship at Grand Rapids Christian High School, and numerous colleges and universities. The DeVos family also is known as big political donors, including to Republican presidential candidates.