CityFest is DeVos’ ‘last gift to West Michigan’

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Evangelist Luis Palau said he was sad to hear of his good friend Richard DeVos’ death, but he was prepared for the news.

“His son, Doug, he and I talked a week ago and he told me, ‘You know, dad’s really close to going to heaven,'” Palau said. 

The Amway co-founder and philanthropist died Thursday morning. He was 92.

This weekend at Ah-Nab-Awen Park in Grand Rapids is CityFest West Michigan, a free festival that was 30 years in the making for Palau and Richard DeVos. The event will have music, family fun and Christian fellowship. Palau is headlining the event.

“This festival is sort of a picture of Richard’s life,” Palau said. “In a way, it’s his last gift to West Michigan. That’s the way he saw it.”

“I think so, I think that’s ( a last gift is) how he thought about it,” Doug DeVos added Friday. “Because one of the duties, of his responsibilities, was to bring people together. He did that with his family, he did that at Amway, he did that in other business situations and in our community.

“So this was something he felt was vital because he saw all the other divisions; that hurt him. He wants everyone to feel a part of this community. So many good things are happening that this is the one thing that is foundational to make all those other good things work better,” Doug DeVos concluded.

Doug DeVos says his father’s faith guided the foundation of his life.

“He knew he was loved by God. He knew that while he wasn’t perfect, he would often introduce himself as a sinner. He was saved by grace,” explained Doug DeVos. “And so that assurance…  was the foundation is his life which allowed him to move forward and to reach out and to share love, express himself, because he had that assurance that he was loved unconditionally, that he was saved. And I think he wants others to have that foundation and until you have that foundation, life is tough.”   

Richard DeVos’  outspoken faith was why the festival was so important to him.

“He said, ‘I want all of West Michigan to know that I am a believer in Jesus Christ,'” Palau recalled.

He and Richard DeVos were close friends, often poking fun at each other. The jabs continued even after Richard DeVos’ death, with Palau saying he was stealing the show.

“Lo and behold, we are going to have a festival and he gets the center of attention. He takes off for heaven, and it’s kind of like him to do things dramatically,” Palau said.

He said Richard DeVos would have loved to be at the festival.

“I would have given anything to haul him up on the platform. We’d probably have to pick him up in his wheelchair and bring him up there and have him greet the crowd. That was sort of my dream,” Palau said.

But he said he is happy he will have the opportunity to celebrate the life and legacy of his good friend.

“He’s in a good place. He’s in the best place. The best airport to land in over the many airports he landed in, It’s heaven. The other one is not recommended — it starts with an H also,” Palau said with a laugh. 

>>App users: Photos of Rich DeVos’ life

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