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Helen DeVos a "Renaissance Woman"


A Celebration of Life funeral service was held for philanthropist Helen DeVos Tuesday at Grand Rapids’ LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church with a simulcast at the J.W. Marriott. 

“This service is an expression of her faith. Her fingerprints are all over that program in front of you.”

Reverend Dr. Stanley Mast made it known Helen DeVos selected the music, scripture and musicians.

“Receive this service as a gift from Helen.”

Her children Doug, Dan and Cheri read from scripture and it was Dick who recalled it was his mother who was their teacher providing life lessons.

Four generations of DeVos family thanked friends for joining them. Then Reverend Dr. Mast shared with the congregation the story of Helen DeVos’ passing.

“On Wednesday night Helen was actively dying and one of her caregivers said to Rich, ‘Rich, why don’t you go in there and pray her into Heaven.’ And so he rolled his wheelchair up to the bed, took her hand, bowed his head, closed his eyes, and prayed for her. He thanked God for her. He asked God to take her home, to do it easily, and he prayed and he prayed. His eyes were closed and Dick leaned down to him and said, ‘Dad, she’s gone.’ He prayed her into Heaven.”

Helen DeVos was described as a "Renaissance Woman."

“She loved music and poured her soul into this city bringing a music to it that well, without her we wouldn’t have had. She was an educator who believed in education for all people and she worked at that. She loved children and there’s a hospital to prove it just down the road. Her generosity was without parallel I don’t think I saw a single headline anywhere in any media the last week or so that didn’t say that Helen was a philanthropist…and she was.”

But at the center of it all was her faith. And it was her final message to all, borrowed from Philippians, “Always be full of Joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice!”

Patrick Center, WGVU News.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.