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Detroit entrepreneur William Pickard dies at age 83

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(CBS DETROIT) - Entrepreneur William Pickard, who started his career as a McDonald's franchisee in Detroit, has died. He was 83 years old.

Pickard died on Wednesday at his West Palm Beach, Florida, home, according to a statement from his family.

"On behalf of our family, we extend our heartfelt gratitude for the love and support during this difficult time. Your kindness has provided immense comfort. We kindly ask for privacy at this time.  Funeral arrangements will be announced soon," his family said.

Detroit entrepreneur William Pickard dies at age 83
Courtesy of the Pickard family

Pickard founded GAA Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management in 1989, co-owned five Black-owned newspapers and served as co-managing partner at MGM Grand Detroit Casino. According to his bio on GAA's website, he generated more than $5 billion in sales with multiple plants and corporations in the U.S. and Canada, including Ford, General Motors, Stellantis (formerly Chrysler), Starbucks, Home Depot, the U.S. Marine Corp and the city of Detroit.

He was awarded the Michigan Lifetime Humanitarian Award in 2019 and Michiganian of the Year.

Pickard earned his bachelor's degree from Western Michigan University, a master's degree from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. from Ohio State University.

Over the years, Pickard donated millions of dollars to his alma mater WSU, the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C., the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, the Motown Historical Museum, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Wayne County Community College District.

"I am saddened to learn of the passing of Dr. Bill Pickard, and I want to extend my sincere condolences to his family," said Wayne County Executive Warren Evans in a statement. "Dr. Pickard was a shrewd businessman, philanthropist and leader who made great contributions to our state and nation. Among his many achievements, he will be remembered for his commitment to uplifting the Black community and helping Black men further their education at Morehouse College."  

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