Roy Chapin, former Secretary of Commerce &


Our staff amassed a list of the 150 Michiganians who most affected the news, history and our lives − for better or worse − in the 150 years of The Detroit News, ranked from 150 to 1 (Read the FAQ on our selection process here). Here are our picks, one a day through our birthday on Aug. 23.

64: Roy Chapin, former Secretary of Commerce & co-founder of Hudson Motor Company (1880-1936)

Roy Chapin, American Motors executive, February 26, 1967.

Roy Chapin was a Lansing-native who brought national interest and industry to Michigan. In 1908, Chapin led a group of investors and engineers in founding the Hudson Motor Company in Detroit. He helped run the company and formed its subset, Essex Motor Company, which specialized in the mass production of affordable automobiles. Hudson became one of the most profitable auto-manufacturers of the time. In 1932, Chapin was appointed the United States Secretary of Commerce under President Hoover. After his political career ended, Chapin moved back to Detroit and fought for the rest of his life to protect Hudson from the effects of the Great Depression.

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65: Dick and Betsy DeVos, businessman & former Secretary of Education (1955-present)

Betsy DeVos, with husband Dick, is sworn in as education secretary in 2017.

When it comes to power couples, it’s hard to beat Dick and Betsy DeVos. The Grand Rapids pair are influential in both business and politics. Dick Devos is the son of the late Amway-founder Richard Devos Sr., and helped lead the direct marketing company to an international presence. He ran unsuccessfully for Michigan governor as a Republican in 2006. Betsy DeVos is an advocate for education reform. The former chair of the Michigan Republican Party was named by President Donald Trump as the 11th Secretary of Education, and used the position to advocate for school choice and more accountability in education. The pair are major philanthropists, both in Michigan and worldwide. They have also been big donors to the Republican Party. Together they founded the Windquest Group, a privately-owned organization that invests in clean energy.

66: CW Post, breakfast cereal titan (1854-1914)

C.W. Post

After a stay in the Battle Creek Sanitarium for a mental breakdown, CW Post allegedly stole several cereal recipes from the Santiarium’s operator, John Harvey Kellogg, and used them in 1895 to start the Postum Cereal Co. in Battle Creek. As his food production business grew, Post became one of the richest men of the early 20th century. Postum Cereal Co. ran into trouble in 1907, when Post was fined $50,000 in a libel case over an advertisement claiming that his Grape-Nuts could cure appendicitis. In 1914, Post suffered from appendicitis himself, which would ultimately lead to his death. The company he founded survives as Post Consumer Brands, maker of Bran Flakes, Chips Ahoy!, Pebbles, Honeycomb, and other major brands.

67: Carl Levin, former US Senator (1934-2021)

Democratic U.S. Senator Carl Levin addresses the crowd at the Michigan State Democratic Convention at Cobo Center in Detroit., Saturday, August 28, 2010.

Sen. Carl Levin was Michigan’s longest tenured U.S. senator, serving for 36 years. The Detroit native got his start working with the Michigan Civil Rights Council in the 1960s, and later won a seat on the Detroit City Council, eventually becoming its president. Frustrated by inaction on repossessed HUD homes, Levin rented bulldozers and led fellow council members in driving them through a blighted neighborhood. He spent seven years on the council from 1969 to 1977, during which he was a close ally of Mayor Coleman Young.Levin was elected to the Senate as a Democrat in 1978, and for 10 years chaired the Armed Forces Committee, and advocated for Pentagon transparency during the Iraq War. He also led a comprehensive congressional investigation into the causes of the financial collapse in 2008. Over the course of his Senate career he authored 51 bills that became law.

President Jimmy Carter stands between Michigan's former Sen. Don Riegle, left, and Sen. Carl Levin as he speaks at the airport during his unsuccessful reelection campaign in 1980.

68: Charles Wright, physician and museum founder (1918-2002)

Dr. Charles H. Wright, founder of the Museum of African American History.

Dr. Charles Wright was both a physician and civil-rights activist. After completing two residencies in Harlem and Cleveland, Wright moved to Detroit and practiced general medicine, later becoming a gynecologist, surgeon and senior physician at Hutzel Women’s Hospital. In the 1960s he joined the civil rights movement, joining marches in the south and providing medical care for fellow protesters. Throughout his career, Wright worked to bring more African Americans into the medical field, raising funds for scholarships. He also advocated for a museum to celebrate Black history, and was instrumental in the 1985 opening of the Detroit Museum of African American History, which in 1989 was renamed the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in his honor.

69: Louis Chevrolet, race car driver & Chevrolet co-founder (1878-1941)

Louis Chevrolet is seen driving the Buick 60 Special at Indianapolis, circa 1910.
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