The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD), the largest Macedonian émigré organization outside of Macedonia, with profound sadness, mourns the passing of our generous benefactor and longtime UMD Macedonian Companion, Michael Ilitch. Mr. Ilitch passed away today at the age of 87.
Michael Ilitch was born in Detroit, Michigan in 1929 to Macedonian immigrants Sotir Ilitch and Sultana Tasseff Ilitch who came to the United States in 1924 from the village of Dragosh, near Bitola, Macedonia.
He and his wife Marian are the American success story. They came from humble beginnings from the city of Detroit and showed what can happen through hard work and dedication. They have shown themselves to be true visionaries for the city of Detroit, and role models for American society, but always proud of, and never forgetting, their Macedonian roots and the plight of the Macedonian people.
In a message to Mrs. Marian Ilitch and the entire Ilitch family this evening, UMD Co-Founder and President Metodija A. Koloski stated, “My heart goes out to you as you mourn the loss of Mr. Ilitch - a legend, a pillar, a kind-hearted soul, proud of his Macedonian roots, and just an outstanding citizen - his dedication to family, the city of Detroit, and Michigan is an example for all of us to adhere to! May he rest in peace! As we say in Macedonian, Bog da go prosti (Бог да го прости)!”
UMD Board Member George Peters, lifetime parishioner at Dearborn Michigan’s St. Clement Orthodox Church where Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch were also dedicated lifetime supporters stated, “I have been fortunate to have known Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch my entire life and honored to have gotten to work with them on joint projects to better our church community. Macedonians globally are immensely proud of Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch and their entire family, not just for their amazing achievements, but also for being exceptional citizens of our Macedonian community and the country. I am personally humbled by their generosity and dedication to the city of Detroit, and laud their commitment – Mr. Ilitch will be missed tremendously.”
Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch once said in a letter to UMD,
"All of our successes have been the result of many others helping us along the way. Our giving back to the community is our way of saying Thanks.....Mike and I are both very proud of our Macedonian heritage and have prided ourselves on passing along many of the wonderful traditions to our children and grandchildren throughout the years….We appreciate the good work that the United Macedonian Diaspora is doing to preserve and promote the Macedonian heritage and identity worldwide.”
UMD is dedicated to continue to carry out these ideals and extends their heartfelt condolences to Mrs. Ilitch and the entire Ilitch family.
A full statement of Mr. Ilitch’s life and accomplishments can be found by clicking HERE.