William Pickard, Detroit, Philanthropist

William Pickard, Renowned Detroit Businessman And Philanthropist, Dies At 83

William Pickard, the renowned Detroit entrepreneur known for founding GAA Manufacturing and his extensive philanthropy, died June 12.

Renowned Detroit entrepreneur William Pickard, who started as a McDonald’s franchisee before founding GAA Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management in 1989, has died.

According to a statement from his family, Pickard died on June 12 at his West Palm Beach, Florida, home. He was 83.

“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.

In 2019, Pickard received awards for Michiganian of the Year and the Michigan Lifetime Humanitarian Award. Over the years, he donated millions of dollars to his alma mater, Western Michigan University, as well as 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,” Wayne County Executive Warren Evans said 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.”

In addition to founding GAA Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management, Pickard co-owned five Black-owned newspapers and served as co-managing partner at MGM Grand Detroit Casino. He also generated over $5 billion in sales across multiple plants and U.S. and Canada-based corporations like Ford, General Motors, Stellantis (formerly Chrysler), Starbucks, Home Depot, the U.S. Marine Corps, and the city of Detroit.

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