John D. DeVries Obituary

John D.  DeVries
John D. DeVries
John D. DeVries

January 11, 1936 - January 29, 2020
Born in near Kellerton, Iowa
Resided in West Des Moines, Iowa
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John David DeVries was born near Kellerton, Iowa on January 11, 1936, son of Carl Henry DeVries and Violet Hester (Smith) DeVries. He grew up on a farm with three older sisters and a younger brother.

In 1949, their Mother died accidently. The two older sisters were married, and John at 13, sister, Margaret at 15, Jim at 6, with their Dad carried on as a family. In 1954, John graduated from Mount Ayr High School and in the fall enrolled at Iowa State College. After a year, he joined the U.S. Army for two years, but returned to Iowa State upon discharge. In 1959, John graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Industrial Administration (Business). He received an MBA from the University of Iowa in 1971.

In 1956, John married Rena Laird (dissolution 1979), and became the parents of two children, Julie Christ and Tim (Wendy), who survive him. Grandchildren are Alex Christ, Ben Christ, and Evan DeVries, and also two special granddaughters, Logan Maher and Jacklyn Maher. John is also survived by sisters, Margaret Johnson of Clarinda and Evelyn VanSickle of Newton, plus many nieces and nephews. Rena DeVries also survives. He was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Ella Deane Ferber and brother James.

John began his career at Collins Radio Company in Cedar Rapids and enrolled part-time at the University of Iowa to earn an MBA. In 1962, he and his family moved to Des Moines, and he was employed by Ernst & Ernst, CPA's, and was certified in 1964 with certificate 651.

In 1967, John joined Mid-Continent Bottlers, where he served for the next eleven years, first holding financial responsibilities and eventually became Executive Vice President until the company was sold in 1978. In 1979, John purchased The Graphic Corporation, that eventually became Colorfx, Inc., and he spent the next 29 years in commercial printing and marketing until he sold the company in August 2007.

John was dedicated to Iowa State University and especially its College of Business through service and support. He provided leadership through the Iowa State University Foundation, was elected a Governor in 1984 and served as its chair from 1993-95. He was involved in several fund-raising campaigns including Co-Chair for Des Moines in the Partnership for Prominence Campaign in 1990-91, and Deputy Chair in 1995 for The President's Scholarship Campaign. In 1995, he was awarded the Alumni Recognition Medal by the ISU Alumni Association and in 1998, he was awarded the Order of the Knoll Cardinal and Gold Award by the Foundation.

John was instrumental in starting the Founders Fund Society for the College of Business, a predecessor to the Dean's Advisory Council, serving as chair in 1984-86, and chair of the Dean's Advisory Council from 1987-1989. In recognition of his service to the College, the John D. DeVries Service Award is awarded annually, to a graduate or friend of the College who has provided distinguished service to the College.

Further, John received a Citation of Achievement from Iowa State University College of Business in 1985 and he was recognized in 1994, for Outstanding Service to the College during its first decade. In 1992, he was Honoree of the ISU Chapter of Beta Gamma Sigma, a national business fraternity. In 2018, John was the first recipient of the Ivy Award bestowed by the Ivy College of Business at Iowa State University.

John was proud of being a Certified Public Accountant. He has been a continuing member of the Iowa Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. In 1995, the Iowa Society recognized John as "Outstanding CPA in Business and Industry.”

John believed in the promotion of business development and was active with the Iowa Association of Business and Industry serving as its Chair in 1993-94. He supported the related political action committee as a long-time director serving as chair from 1989-93.

John was also dedicated to business and community. He was a member of the Greater Des Moines Chamber of Commerce at one time serving on the board of directors. He volunteered for United Way of Central Iowa, was a member of its Tocqueville Society, and at other times provided leadership to Salvation Army programs. He was a long-term member of The Des Moines Rotary Club and the West Des Moines United Methodist Church.

John felt that he was blessed with his family and friends and having grown up in a rural community in Iowa and being born in the United States of America. He believed in pledging reverence to our country.

John passed away January 29, 2020. A memorial gathering will be held 5-7pm, Tuesday, February 4, 2020 at Iles Westover Chapel A memorial service will be held 10:30am, Wednesday, February 5, 2020 at West Des Moines United Methodist Church. Private interment will be at Rose Hill Cemetery in Lamoni, Iowa at a later date.

His family would like to extend a special thank you to the staff and volunteers at EveryStep Kavanagh House for their exceptional care of John. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to West Des Moines United Methodist Church or EveryStep Hospice (Kavanagh House). Online condolences are welcome at

Arrangements by Iles Westover Chapel





Memorial Gathering
Westover Funeral Home
6337 Hickman Road
Des Moines, IA US 50322
Tuesday, February 4, 2020
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Memorial Service
West Des Moines United Methodist Church
720 Grand Avenue
West Des Moines, IA US 50265
Wednesday, February 5, 2020
10:30 AM


West Des Moines United Methodist Church
720 Grand Ave
West Des Moines, IA US 50265
EveryStep Hospice Kavanagh House
900 - 56th Street
Des Moines, IA usa 50312