Metro Detroiters and Athletes Say Goodbye to Mr. I at the Fox

Deadline Detroit photo

On a cold, overcast day, Metro Detroiters and athletes -- including former and current members of the Detroit Red Wings -- filed into the Fox Theatre in downtown Detroit on Wednesday afternoon to pay respect to the pizza king and sports agnate Mike Ilitch, who was lying in repose. He died Friday at 87.

Marian and Mike Ilitch ride in a June 6, 2008 downtown parade celebrating the Red Wings' Stanley Cup victory that year. (Photo from The District Detroit)


There were flowers and big photographs and a montage of Ilitch and his family set to music inside the main theater. There were photos of Ilitch as a kid, as a minor league ballplayer, as a pro teams owner as a grandfather and as a husband with wife Marian.

After people viewed the slide show, they patiently stood in line waiting to pay condolences to the family in the grand lobby.

Former Red Wings player Kris Draper calls it an emotional day.

“To go over there and see Mrs. Ilitch and give a hug, it’s nice to be able to do that,” he says, George Sipple writes in the Free Press. “It’s going to be a tough day, but they have a great video montage up.

"It’s amazing all the accomplishments that keep going over and over again. You just realize how many lives Mr. Ilitch touched and what he did for this city. When you see some of his quotes and read some of his quotes, you can really feel the passion that he had for the city of Detroit. The things that are going on will continue to go on in memory of Mr. Ilitch and are going to be first-class.”

Draper calls Ilitch  “the greatest owner in sports.”

Draper said Steve Yzerman, Mathieu Dandenault and Doug Brown were among former Wings who flew in for the visitation. Team captain Henrik Zetterberg also attended. 

The eight-hour memorial runs until 8 p.m. Parking across the street is free. 

Read more:  Detroit Free Press

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