Denise Ilitch took time to thank the city for the tremendous outpouring of love and support shown her and her family on the passing her father Mike Ilitch during an emotional and celebratory “Michigan Matters” show.
Ilitch, eldest of Mike and Marian Ilitch’s seven children, appeared with Senior Producer/Host Carol Cain and said, “My Dad would have been blown away by all the attention and kind words.”
Mr Ilitch passed away two weeks ago at age of 87.
“He also would have been embarrassed by it all,” she added.
Denise appeared on the show wearing a “MR I” red pin on the lapel of her jacket which she said was given out at hockey games to commemorate her father.
Mike and Marian built a billion-dollar empire from one pizza shop. Today it includes the Detroit Tigers, Detroit Red Wings, Little Caesars, Fox Theatre and Motor City Casino.
While much has been written about “Mr I,” Denise talked about her dad and growing up in the large family. She recalled his love of being with his kids and how he delighted them with his “flying car.”
Former President George W. Bush, former owner of the Texas Rangers, knew Mike Ilitch (who owns the Tigers ) and stunned invited guests Tuesday when he appeared at the Fox Theatre for a Celebration of Life event held in Mike Ilitch’s honor.
He talked about his late friend and their family similarities.
“President Bush told how my Dad’s parents and my Mom’s parents were immigrants from Macedonia and how their story might never have happened if immigrants weren’t allowed in,” Denise Ilitch said, with its subtle reference to President Donald Trump’s talk of immigration.
“He also talked about his own grandparents who were immigrants from Hungary,” she added.
Also appearing on the show was Meryl Davis, winner off the Gold Medal in Ice Dancing along with her partner, Charlie White, at the 2014 Olympics.
Davis is assisting Figure Skating in Detroit as it is being launched to help girls of color learn about skating and things off the ice.
Davis, Ilitch and Geneva Williams, director of Figure Skating in Detroit, appear with Cain to talk about their effort which will invite 300 girls from Detroit to be part of the program.
You can hear the conversation by watching “Michigan Matters” 11:30 Sunday on CBS 62.