The founder of Art Van Furniture, Art Van Elslander has died. He was 87.
The Michigan philanthropist passed away on Feb. 12, surrounded by his family.
“My family is heartbroken by the loss of our father,” said Gary Van Elslander, President of Van Elslander Capital, and Mr. Van Elslander’s eldest son.
Mr. Van Elslander was born in Detroit in 1930, the son of a Belgian immigrant.
He opened his first store in 1959 on Gratiot Avenue in East Detroit. That store ultimately grew to more than 100 Art Van Furniture locations throughout the Midwest before he sold the business in early 2017.
Mr. Van Elslander was also known for his generosity. When Detroit’s annual Thanksgiving Day parade was in financial peril in 1990, Mr. Van Elslander made a historic donation that saved the tradition. He also gave to charities including St. John Providence Health System, Focus: HOPE, Forgotten Harvest and the Capuchin Franciscan Providence of St. Joseph.
The family said they appreciate the outpouring of love and support and request privacy to grieve.
Funeral arrangements are not yet confirmed.
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