Metro Detroit furniture retail giant Art Van Elslander has passed away, company officials said Monday.

He was 87. Van Elslander died Sunday night after losing his year-long battle with cancer, according to Diane Charles, a company spokeswoman.

Van Elslander opened his first store in 1959 on Gratiot Avenue and 10 Mile in what’s now Eastpointe.

In 1973, Art Van Furniture moved its headquarters from 12 Mile and Van Dyke Road to its current location on 14 Mile in Warren. The company operates 181 stores in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Iowa. Last week, the retail chain expanded into St. Louis.

He and his company have donated tens of millions of dollars to Michigan charities and causes. He is the man known for saving America’s Thanksgiving Parade after his company became its main sponsor in 2013.

Source: The Detroit News