The February 10 death of Little Caesars founder Mike Ilitch prompted his hometown of Detroit to reflect on the important philanthropic efforts he made to the community, WXYZ reports.
For over ten years, the Detroit businessman paid the rent of civil rights icon Rosa Parks, according to a 2014 news article from Sports Business Daily. Though locally reported, the information was not widely known.
Ilitch stepped in after a 1994 burglary in Park’s apartment raised concerns over her safety.
The outlet spoke with former federal appeals judge Damon Keith, who produced a check for $2,000 from Little Caesars Enterprises, which was written out to Riverfront Apartments. Keith was made the executor of Parks’ estate after her death in 2005.
Keith told Sports Business Daily that when news of the burglary spread, he reached out to the owner of Riverfront Apartments, Alfred Taubman, who vowed to help Parks find placement.
After Ilitch read about Parks’ ordeal in the local paper he reached out to Keith, promising to pay her rent for however long was needed.
“Mike Ilitch is totally committed to Detroit,” Keith said to the Business Daily. “He brought the Little Caesars corporate offices here. He saved the Fox Theatre. He built Comerica Park, and he kept the hockey and baseball teams thriving here when times were tough. But of all the incredible things he has done for the city, people should know what he did for Rosa Parks.”