Van Andel, David

David Van Andel's family made significant contributions to downtown revitalization and continued development. They are responsible for the renovation of the Amyway Grand Plaza Hotel in 1981. Betty served on the board of Opera Grand Rapids and supported Pine Rest Christian Hospital with the creation of the Van Andel Adolescent Center. The couple made the lead gift to the Van Andel Museum Center and the Van Andel Arena. They founded the Van Andel Institute in 2000.

Biographical Highlights

David Van Andel is the son of preeminent Grand Rapids, Michigan, philanthropists Jay and Betty Van Andel. The elder Van Andels were responsible for such landmarks as the Van Andel Arena, the Van Andel Museum Center, and the Van Andel Institute. David graduated from Hope College. He worked for Amway, the company his father cofounded in 1977. In 2001, he became the CEO of the Van Andel Institute.

Historic Roots

David’s parents, Betty (Hoekstra) and Jay Van Andel, attended Grand Rapids Christian Schools and Calvin College. Jay co-founded Amway with Richard DeVos, Sr., and the company became a multi-billion dollar operation in their lifetimes. Betty suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for at least 15 years, and Jay developed Parkinson’s disease in 1988. Betty died at 82 on Jan. 18, 2004. Jay died at 80 on Dec. 7, 2004. David Van Andel is one of their four children. He has two sisters, Nan and Barbara, and a brother, Steven. David graduated from Hope College and worked for Amway beginning in 1977. He is married to Carol and has four children. David stepped down as chief operating officer of Pyxis Innovations, Inc. (an Alticor/Amway subsidiary) in February 2001 to become chairman and chief executive of the Van Andel Institute. He is co-owner of the Grand Rapids Griffins with Doug DeVos. He played a major role in bringing professional hockey to the area.


David Van Andel carried on the philanthropic legacy of his parents. He and his wife Carol have a foundation and continue to contribute of time and money in the area. His leadership of the Van Andel Institute promoted a valuable community asset.

Ties to the Philanthropic Sector

Amway purchased the Pantlind Hotel in 1979 and reopened it as the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in 1981. This development was a positive transition point for the revitalization of downtown Grand Rapids. Betty served on the board of Opera Grand Rapids. She supported Pine Rest Christian Hospital, where she helped fund the creation of the Van Andel Adolescent Center. Betty and Jay gave major gifts to Grand Rapids Christian Schools and John Ball Zoo. The couple made the lead gift to the Van Andel Museum Center that opened in 1993 and the Van Andel Arena that opened in 1996.

Jay and Betty Van Andel founded the Van Andel Institute in 2000. In his role as CEO of the Institute, David Van Andel leads an organization that benefits the entire community.

The public museum began a campaign to raise money for an endowment in 2007, supported by the children of Jay and Betty and Richard and Helen DeVos. David and Carol Van Andel established their own foundation that benefits a variety of community organizations.

Key Related Ideas

A member of the second generation of Van Andel family philanthropists, David Van Andel was born and raised in Grand Rapids. He attended Hope College and worked for over thirty years at Amway, the family business. Next, he headed the Van Andel Institute, making a major contribution to community building in Grand Rapids. He also formed his own foundation and continued the family legacy of local philanthropy.

Important People Related to the Topic

  • Doug DeVos: Doug DeVos is the president of Amway and the youngest son of Amway founder Rich DeVos. DeVos serves on the board of the Michigan Business Leadership Council, the Gerald R. Ford Foundation, and the Early Childhood Commission.
  • Richard and Helen DeVos: Richard DeVos is the cofounder of Amway with Jay Van Andel. Also born and raised in Grand Rapids, Rich DeVos met Helen in the Christian school and they married in 1953. The couple have been partners in philanthropy since then. The Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation formed in 1970.
  • Jay and Betty Van Andel: Jay Van Andel is the cofounder of Amway with Rich DeVos. The Van Andels supported many revitalization efforts in downtown Grand Rapids. They were responsible for such landmarks as the Van Andel Arena, the Van Andel Museum Center, and the Van Andel Institute.

Related Nonprofit Organizations

  • Grand Rapids Christian Schools is an independent, non-profit preschool through twelfth grade system dedicated to educating students in a faith-based environment.
  • John Ball Zoo: The zoo is owned and operated by Kent County. The John Ball Zoo has over 1100 animals representing the wilds of Africa, Asia, South America, Australia and the United States.
  • Pine Rest Christian Hospital: Pine Rest offers mental health services to people of all ages in Michigan. Services include substance abuse treatment, outpatient counseling and therapy, and residential programs.
  • The Public Museum of Grand Rapids was the first museum ever accredited by the American Association of Museums in 1971, and it has continued to earn that accreditation in every review since. The Van Andel Museum Center, which opened in November 1994, is an education/entertainment center and West Michigan’s premier heritage museum facility.
  • Van Andel Research Institute (VARI) is an independent, world-class medical research facility that has gained worldwide recognition for research into the genetic and molecular origins of cancer and other diseases. VARI conducts biomedical research, with a focus on cancer and Parkinson disease and with an emphasis on translating scientific research results into clinical applications. VARI strengthens science education and prepares and motivates individuals to pursue science or science-related professions.

Related Web Sites

  • Alticor is the parent company of Amway.
  • Amway Corporation: Read about the business Van Andel founded at . Especially interesting is a history section and other relevant background under “Who We Are.”
  • Grand Rapids Griffins: Professional American Hockey League team in Grand Rapids.
  • Opera Grand Rapids is West Michigan's resident, professional opera production company since 1967. Each production is built from the ground up in Grand Rapids, utilizing breathtaking national singers, amazing sets and costumes, our regional chorus, and the music of the Grand Rapids Symphony. Betty Van Andel supported this organization passionately.
  • The Van Andel Arena website at features news and events pertaining to the arena.

Bibliography and Internet Sources

Cross, Wilbur and Gordon Olson. Commitment to Excellence: the Remarkable Amway Story. Elmsford, N.Y.: Benjamin, c1986. ISBN: 0875021360

Fugate, Sandy. For the Benefit of All: A History of Philanthropy in Michigan. Battle Creek: W.K. Kellogg Foundation, 1997. ISBN: 1891445006

Van Andel, Jay. An Enterprising Life: an Autobiography. HarperBusiness, 1998. ISBN: 0887309976

Maine, Donald. Maine Street: A Tribute to 27 West Michigan Entrepreneurs. Boston MA: Pearson Custom, 2002. ISBN-13: 9780536679918.

Stivers, Julie Christianson. The Presence of the Past: the Public Museum of Grand Rapids at 150. Public Museum of Grand Rapids, c2004. ISBN: 096665241X