Is your surname Van Andel?

Research the Van Andel family

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Related Projects

Jay Van Andel

Birthplace: Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan, United States
Death: December 07, 2004 (80)
Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of James Van Andel and Nellie Van Andel
Husband of Betty Van Andel

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
view all

Immediate Family

About Jay 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.

In 1949, Van Andel and DeVos become 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.

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

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 neurodegernative diseases such as Parkinson's. Education programs seek to inspire and prepare students to become the next generation of researchers.

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." Jay Van Andel served as a director of the Gerald R. Ford Foundation.

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.

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.

view all

Jay Van Andel's Timeline

June 3, 1924
Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan, United States
December 7, 2004
Age 80
Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan, United States