Founder of Art Van Furniture and Michigan philanthropist dies

MICHIGAN – The founder of Art Van Furniture has died.

In a post on Facebook Monday, family says that Archie Van Elslander died Monday morning, surrounded by family. He was 87.

According to family, Van Elslander was the son of a Belgian immigrant and was born in Detroit. He opened his first furniture store in 1959 on Gratiot Avenue in East Detroit and grew Art Van Furniture to over 100 stores throughout the midwest.

Van Elslander was also known as a philanthropist who rescued the Detroit Thanksgiving Day Parade when it was in financial trouble in 1990 and recently has sponsored the Grand Rapids Jaycees Santa Claus Parade.  He was also major benefactor of several charities, including St. John Providence Health System, Focus:HOPE, Forgotten Harvest and the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph.

Funeral arrangements have not yet been determined.

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