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Jay Van Andel
File:File:Jay Van Andel 1975.jpg
Born (1924-06-03)June 3, 1924
Grand Rapids, MI, US
Died December 7, 2004(2004-12-07) (aged 80)
Ada Township, Michigan, US
Nationality American
Known for Amway founder
Religion Christian Reformed Church
Spouse(s) Betty Van Andel

Jay Van Andel (June 3, 1924 – December 7, 2004) was an American businessman, best known as co-founder of the Amway Corporation, along with Richard DeVos. He also served as chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce from 1979 to 1980 and later as a member of its Senior Council from 1980 to 1985.

He was also known for funding religious missions and conservative political causes, including the Republican Party.[1]


In 1949, Van Andel and DeVos became distributors of Nutrilite dietary supplements. They added cleaning products including Liquid Organic Cleaner, to their core line of products in 1958. In 1959, the “American Way Association” began in the basements of the Van Andel and DeVos homes, and later that year “Amway Sales Corporation” was formed. A converted service station became Amway’s first outside office building in 1960.[2]

Today, Amway is a direct selling multinational company that sells a variety of health, beauty, and home care products.

Van Andel Institute[]

In 1996, Van Andel founded Van Andel Institute with his wife Betty. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan and focuses on disease research and science education. Researchers look for ways to better diagnose and treat diseases, primarily cancer and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's. Education programs seek to inspire and prepare students to become the next generation of researchers.[3]

Philanthropy and public service[]

Jay Van Andel and Richard DeVos in the Oval Office meeting with President Gerald R. Ford in June 1975.

From 1985, Van Andel was a member of the Heritage Foundation, and was at the time of his death a trustee of the traditionally conservative Hillsdale College. A strong supporter of the Republican Party, Van Andel contributed $2 million to the re-election campaign of President George W. Bush, and $475,000 to the Michigan State Republican Party (mostly for state legislature candidates) in 2004 alone. He was noted for his friendship with former President Gerald R. Ford, a native of Grand Rapids, who lamented his death and called him "a great family man and a worldwide leader in the business arena". Steve Forbes wrote about Van Andel, "Whether in business or philanthropy, Van Andel understood that the primary goal was to serve the needs and wants of other people. He exmplified the best of America."[4] Jay Van Andel served as a director of the Gerald R. Ford Foundation.[citation needed]

In addition to Amway, Van Andel pursued many other business ventures throughout his life. He served as chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He was particularly interested in leaving his mark on the city of Grand Rapids, and his name appears on landmarks throughout the city. After purchasing the 65-year-old Pantlind Hotel in 1978, he and DeVos had it rebuilt with a 29-story tower and reopened as the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.[citation needed]

He donated substantial funds to build the Van Andel Museum Center to house the Grand Rapids Public Museum in 1994. He donated $11.5 million towards the $75 million cost of Van Andel Arena downtown.

A member of the Christian Reformed Church, Van Andel had a lifelong interest in Christian causes.


Van Andel and his wife Betty both died in 2004; Betty had Alzheimer's disease, and Jay had Parkinson's.[5]


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