Farewell, Mike Ilitch

Paul W. Smith

“Outta’ My Mind on a Monday Moanin’”

We were on our way to dinner when we received the news that Mike Ilitch had died.

You know what it’s like, getting news that you know is coming, but when it does, it’s still a punch in the gut. There were times in the last several years that I thought we were going to lose him, and then, the next time I saw him he looked great.

This was a strong man.

In every way.

He will be missed.

In every way.

By now, there have been so many wonderful things written and said about Mr. Ilitch that I can’t possibly match or enhance, standing beautifully on their own, which in itself, speaks volumes about the man.

I would like to quote two people here; first, his son Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings Inc., the company his father Mike and mother Marian built as he grew up watching and learning how to maintain and build upon their legacy.

“My father was a kind-hearted family man, a big-idea businessman, a hands-on leader and a devoted philanthropist who created opportunity and pride for everyone around him.” Christopher continued, “He was one-of-a-kind, and I’m honored to have worked with him to grow our organization and our hometown. We will never forget his dedication to his employees, players and franchisees, his passion for Detroit, his giving and generous spirit, and his devotion to my mother Marian and all of his loved ones. My father truly lived his life well, and we will work hard to uphold his spirit, his values and his remarkable legacy.”

And finally, WJR News Director Dick Haefner put it well with, “He was known by one letter. To him, it wasn’t “I.”

It was “U.”

Paul W. Smith is host of The Paul W. Smith Show on WJR-AM (760) from 5:30-9 a.m. Monday-Friday.