Jack P. DeBoer died peacefully on March 12, 2021, after a long, fulfilling life of ninety years. He was a towering man with a personal touch and an oversized impact.
In Jack’s extensive business career, he founded the extended-stay hotel concept within the United States’ hospitality industry. Beginning in 1975, Jack launched five nationwide lodging franchises, eventually selling the first three to Marriott, Hyatt, and InterContinental Hotels Group. Jack DeBoer was a classic entrepreneur of vision, confidence, and perseverance – an innovator in both the business and humanitarian sectors. He was renowned in his hometown of Wichita, Kansas as a civic leader, and he was recognized nationally for his civic and charitable accomplishments.
After the sale of his first franchise in 1988, Jack and his wife Marilyn took a four-month trip around the world. Moved by their visit to Yangon (then Rangoon) in the summer of 1988, Jack and Marilyn began a commitment to Myanmar that would span more than three decades. Their relationship with Myanmar’s people changed their lives. In 1995, the DeBoers helped to establish World Vision as Myanmar’s first international nonprofit. Since then, World Vision Myanmar has reached 5.4 million people (including 3.4 million children) through its health clinics, child sponsorships, hygiene services, microenterprise loan programs, and health education. In their work with World Vision and other Myanmar partners, Jack and Marilyn always tried to be hands-on partners and not just donors.
In 2014, Jack and Marilyn made their defining gift to Myanmar with the launch of the DeBoer Fellowship. This international-standard leadership development program annually trains a diverse class of forty competent, compassionate, and ethical leaders in Myanmar. Jack took special pleasure in his relationships with the three hundred Lifelong Fellows, who are spread throughout every one of Myanmar’s states and divisions. Jack often shared business lessons that he had learned “the hard way,” as described in his 2011 book Risk Only Money. He always encouraged them to “Go Do Good,” and to preserve their relationships, family, health, and integrity.
Fritz Kling, President of the DeBoer Foundation, recalls: “It has been one of the great honors of my career to work with Jack DeBoer. He combined both a deep love for the people of Myanmar and also an entrepreneur’s clear, audacious vision. He and Marilyn were thrilled to encourage and equip Myanmar’s talented, young leaders, who were serving their country in such important ways. Jack was a remarkable cheerleader for Myanmar and her people because he always believed that they could do great things beyond their own imagination.”
About DeBoer Fellowship
The DeBoer Fellowship develops change leaders across all sectors of Myanmar society. Through a multi-year training class and additional public programs, the DeBoer Fellowship serves Myanmar by helping to grow competent, compassionate, and ethical leaders. For more information about DeBoer Fellowship or to apply for the Fellowship, please visit: www.deboerfellowship.org.