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Business, Philanthropic Legend Dies at 83

Dr. William “Bill” Pickard, 83, a prominent businessman and supporter of higher education, died at his West Palm Beach, Florida, home on June 12.

Dr. William F. PickardDr. William F. PickardPickard, who purchased his first McDonald’s franchise in Detroit in 1971, is known for his entrepreneurship, philanthropy, and education advocacy. He served on governing boards for several businesses and nonprofit groups over the years. He founded the Global Automotive Alliance Manufacturing and co-owned Real Times Media and Michigan Chronicle.

A member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Pickard made substantial contributions to education including donations of more than $3 million to Western Michigan and more than $2 million to Morehouse College to support Black male students from Detroit, Michigan, Flint, Michigan, and La Grange, Georgia, where he was born Jan. 28, 1941.

Pickard himself earned an associate degree from Mott College, a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Western Michigan University, a master’s in social work from the University of Michigan, and a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University (OSU).

He was known for his mentorship of younger scholars in academe, like Dr. James L. Moore III, the EHE Distinguished Professor of Urban Education and Executive Director of Todd A. Bell National Resource on the African American at OSU. 

"His business success literally changed his life trajectory," said Moore. "It enabled him to support major philanthropic causes in Detroit and higher education all across the country."

Moore added: "Dr. Pickard will be dearly missed, but his impact will always be felt by those individuals who have benefited from his time, talents, touch, and treasures." 

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