In the end, Jay and Rich came to view the FTC investigation as a teaching tool about dealing with the government. It also handed the company a defense when anyone accused it of being a pyramid scheme—no, the FTC had looked into the matter and decided that Amway was not one. Jay and Rich continued to believe that government officials just didn’t understand multilevel marketing and would use their power to try to shut down the company with new regulations or litigation.
It was a stressful year for Amway and for Rich’s health. Several years later, he began having what would become a string of heart problems. One morning, Rich felt unsteady. “I’d bump into doorframes as I exited doorways,” he recalled. “Even when I’d set a straight course, I couldn’t seem to stop from veering to the left side when I moved.”35 Helen insisted he call a doctor. Finally, he agreed. Tests showed Rich had suffered a precursor to a stroke or heart attack. He had to make some changes to his lifestyle, cutting back on cholesterol, getting more exercise, and eating healthier. He did not, however, cut back on his work helping Jay run Amway.
Three years later on the Fourth of July, Rich and his children, Dick, Dan, Cheri, and Doug, were on their 50-foot-racing sloop, Windquest, preparing to compete in the Queen’s Cup overnight race across Lake Michigan. For a prerace event, the DeVoses planned to set sail from Grand Haven one evening. Rich was helping with changing the sail and taking down the spinnaker ...