Red Wings & Tigers owner Mike Ilitch (1929-2017)

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Red Wings & Tigers owner Mike Ilitch (1929-2017)

Post  Admin on Sat Feb 11, 2017 6:16 am

Mike Ilitch, founder of Little Caesars Pizza and owner of the Detroit Red Wings & Tigers, died Friday night at a local hospital at the age of 87.  Mike was married to Marian Ilitch, his partner in life and business, for 61 years.  They have seven adult children, 22 grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

Born in Detroit, Mike Illitch joined the U.S. Marine Corps and served from 1948-1952 at Parris Island, Quantico, and Pearl Harbor.  Soon after, he and his wife Marian saved enough money to open the first Little Caesars in Garden City, Michigan on May 8, 1959.  That single mom & pop pizza shop grew into the world's largest carryout pizza chain, with restaurants in 20 countries and territories throughout the world.  Success in the pizza business enabled Ilitch to invest in other businesses in food, sports, and entertainment.  All businesses are headquartered in the Detroit metropolitan area and will continue to thrive under family ownership, led by his son, who is now President and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, Inc., Christopher Ilitch.

The Ilitch companies include: Ilitch Holdings, Little Caesars Pizza, Blue Line Foodservice Distribution, the Detroit Red Wings, the Detroit Tigers, Olympia Entertainment, Olympia Development, Little Caesars Pizza Kits Fundraising Program, and Champion Foods.  His wife, Marian Ilitch, owns the MotorCity Casino Hotel.

True to Mr. Ilitch's vision for a bustling downtown area, the Ilitch organization will continue its transformational District Detroit project under Christopher Ilitch's leadership, transforming dozens of blocks of largely vacant land in Downtown Detroit into a dynamic, vibrant area for everyone in the community to enjoy.  The District Detroit will include office, retail and residential spaces, as well as the brand new Little Caesars Arena.  The $1.2 billion project is expected to have a $2.1 billion total economic impact on Detroit, the region, and Michigan.

Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch have personally gifted nearly $50 million to Wayne State University, $40 million of which was dedicated to establish the new Mike Ilitch School of Business, which will train and educate the next generation of the city's great entrepreneurs.

Ilitch has received numerous business, cultural, and philanthropic awards, including:  

• The International Franchise Association Hall of Fame (2016)
• SportsBusiness Journal's "The Champions: Pioneers and Innovators in Sports Business (2014)
• US Hockey Hall of Fame induction (2004)
• Michigan Sports Hall of Fame induction (2004)
• National Hockey League Hall of Fame (2003)
• Ellis Island Medal of Honor (1997)

In his hometown of Detroit, Ilitch has been honored for his efforts in the community with the Joe Louis Brown Bomber Jacket Award, the Distinguished Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award, the Shining Light Regional Cooperation Award, and the Edward H. McNamara Goodfellow of the Year Award.

A visionary, true leader, and dear friend, Mike Ilitch will be forever missed by everyone in the Motor City.


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