Hundreds Share Personal Stories About ‘Mr. I.’ At Comerica Park Memorial

DETROIT (WWJ) — Hundreds of people made their way to Comerica Park on Monday, where a temporary memorial was set up in memory of Detroit Tigers and Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch.

People came from all over Michigan with personal stories about how Ilitch impacted their lives. Many of the messages written on the white wall essentially read the same — “Detroit lost a great man,” and “R.I.P. Mr. I.”

One person drew a pizza slice with a message inside that read, “thank you for helping Detroit” and “please say ‘hi’ to my mom.”

“There’s so much that he did for the city that’s never even mentioned,” said Little Caesars employee Melissa. She said she had the pleasure of meeting Ilitch a few times.

Ilitch died on Friday at age 87. He became a Detroit icon after starting the Little Caesars pizza empire in 1959 and revitalizing the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers franchises throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

The white wall behind the “Big Tiger” was plastered with photos from Ilitch’s life, many of him with his wife, Marian. The memorial showcased photos of Ilitch hoisting the Stanley Cup, participating in a championship parade, as well as photos from his wedding.

“I now get to show my son what a wonderful person can do for so many people,” Derek Gassel of Dearborn said.

Ilitch will lie in repose for public visitation on Wednesday in the Grand Lobby of the Fox Theatre.

WWJ Newsradio 950 will air a one hour special on his life, “Remembering Mike Ilitch,” following CBS News at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

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