The death of Mike Ilitch, founder of Little Caesars, has brought back into the public eye a little-known story about his hometown philanthropy in Detroit: Back in 1994, he began covering the rent for civil rights icon Rosa Parks. That year, Parks had been robbed and assaulted in her central Detroit home at the age of 81, and a local judge and a real estate developer worked on finding her a safer home, recounts Al.com, citing a 2014 story in Sports Business Daily. Ilitch got wind of the plan and said he'd pay Parks' rent in the Riverfront Apartments.
The older story has a photo of the judge holding the first $2,000 check in 1994. "Just one of many," the story quotes Judge Damon Keith as saying. Ilitch owned the city's Tigers and Red Wings sports franchises, and he brought his pizza chain's corporate offices to Detroit as well. But "of all the incredible things he has done for the city, people should know what he did for Rosa Parks," Keith said. Parks died in 2005.