Betty Van Andel (1921 – 2004) was the beloved wife of Jay Van Andel and the co-founder of Van Andel Institute. In the years after Amway was founded by her husband and Rich DeVos in 1959, Mrs. Van Andel was an optimistic and unwavering supporter as the company grew from a small business to an international corporation. In later years, through the Jay and Betty Van Andel Foundation, Mrs. Van Andel and her husband contributed to the work of charities, hospitals, schools and other worthwhile institutions, including Van Andel Institute.
In the early days of discussing plans for Van Andel Institute, Mrs. Van Andel was intent on having the Education Institute be part of Van Andel Institute. She said: “As a teacher my lifelong dream was to provide a foundation for the children of future generations to follow and realize their dreams, my prayer is that this education institute will be the fulfillment of that dream.”
Born Betty Hoekstra on December 14, 1921, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, she graduated from Grand Rapids Christian High School and earned a degree from Calvin College in Grand Rapids. She was an elementary school teacher for many years in Grand Rapids.
Betty enjoyed participating in the generous philanthropic grants of the Jay and Betty Van Andel Foundation. She had her own special charities and causes which even today still benefit from the Foundation’s generosity.
Shortly after Van Andel Institute opened, Mrs. Van Andel began her long struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease that finally took her life.
Jay Van Andel’s one regret was that Betty was unable to personally share in the growth of the family’s greatest legacy – the founding of Van Andel Institute. She would have been proud and pleased to witness the unprecedented success of this Institute that holds great promise to enhance the health and quality of life for generations yet unborn.
In his bestselling autobiography, “An Enterprising Life,” Jay Van Andel dedicated his book to his wife with these words: “To Betty, my wife and dearest friend. Her devotion and faithfulness have been the anchor that kept me safe when the storms of life threatened. Her living faith and everlasting love will constitute her legacy to our children and grandchildren.”
Her passing saddens our family and she will be sorely missed. But we also rejoice knowing she is in the everlasting arms of the God she loved…in heaven where there is no more illness or death.