December 7, 2004
WASHINGTON, DEC. 7, 2004-The head of The Heritage Foundation today expressed "great shock and sadness" at the passing of businessman/philanthropist Jay Van Andel. Van Andel, the grandson of Dutch immigrants, co-founded the hugely successful Amway Corp. and devoted a large share of his fortune to civic works and charitable organizations.
Van Andel died this morning at his home in Ada, Mich. He was 80.
"Jay Van Andel was a long-time friend, mentor and inspiration to all of us at Heritage," said Heritage President Ed Feulner. "He lived the American dream and demonstrated that worldly success and spiritual values are not mutually exclusive."
Among his many good works, Mr. Van Andel provided major funding for The Heritage Foundation in its early days, when the now prominent think tank was struggling financially. He remained a staunch supporter of the organization throughout his life, serving on the non-profit's board of trustees since 1985. His daughter, Barb Van Andel-Gaby of Atlanta, also serves on the Heritage board.
On May 6, 1992, Heritage dedicated a conference room to Jay Van Andel and his wife, Betty. The Van Andel Center hosted nearly 100 events in that first year alone, and it has since been used for thousands of events, ranging from policy forums featuring top U.S. and foreign policy-makers to the think tank's annual Christmas party. "Jay represented the heart and soul of Heritage, so it's only fitting that many of our most memorable events - both public and private - occurred in a room that bears his name," Feulner said. "We will miss him."
Jay Van Andel was co-founder and senior chairman of Alticor Corp., one of the largest consumer-products companies in the world, making him one of America's leading entrepreneurs.
In 1992, he served as ambassador to the International Specialized Exposition in Genoa, Italy, and has also served as chairman of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, launching its television network and greatly expanding its effectiveness at promoting free enterprise.
In 1998, Heritage awarded Van Andel its highest honor, the Clare
Boothe Luce Award, for his achievements in advancing
Heritage's Board of Trustees established the Clare Boothe Luce Award in 1991 to honor those who exemplify conservative ideals. Luce was a Heritage trustee, congresswoman, ambassador, playwright, presidential adviser and editor. She died in 1987.
A native of Grand Rapids, Mich., Van Andel also served on the board of the Jamestown Foundation, which helped Russian political refugees find safe haven in the West. Betty Van Andel died in January.
With more than 200,000 individual, foundation and corporate supporters, The Heritage Foundation is the most broadly supported public policy research institute in the country. The 31-year-old institution has a staff of nearly 200 and an annual budget of $30 million.