While it was public information back in 2014, Ilitch and Parks friendship was revisited on Saturday (Feb. 11) following his passing on Friday. CNN affiliate WXYZ reports Parks was assaulted and robbed at her home in 1994. Ilitch read about the crime and teamed up with Alfred Taubman and federal judge Damon Keith to find Parks a safe place to stay. Taubman, who owned Riverfront Apartments, found Parks an apartment that was to her liking. Keith showed a reporter a $2,000 check, dated Nov. 1, 1994 from Little Caesars Enterprises to Riverfront Apartments. Ilitch went on to pay Parks’ rent until she died in 2005.
“It’s important that people know what Mr. Mike Ilitch did for Ms. Rosa Parks because it’s symbolic of what he has always done for the people of our city,” Keith said.
Born and raised in Detriot, the 87-year-old has been credited with introducing new business ventures for the city. After launching his Little Caesars restaurants in 1959, it went on to become the third largest pizza chain in the country. Some of their community efforts span from feeding lower income families to assisting honorably discharged veterans who want to transition into business.
“Whether he was making pizza, building successful sports and entertainment franchises or supporting youth organizations in our city, Mr. I helped to bring thousands of jobs and opportunities to our city and attract millions of dollars of investment,” Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said about Ilitch.
Ilitch is survived by Little Caesars co-founder and wife Marian Ilitch and their seven children.