Archie Van Elslander, founder of furniture chain, dies at 87

(File photo WEYI/WSMH)

WARREN, Mich. (AP) - Archie Van Elslander, the founder of Art Van Furniture and a major Detroit-area philanthropist, has died. He was 87.

A statement released by his family says Van Elslander, who was known as Art Van, died Monday. Company spokeswoman Diane Charles says he had cancer.

Van Elslander opened his first furniture store in 1959 in East Detroit, now called Eastpointe. There are more than 120 Art Van stores in the Midwest, although most are in Michigan.

The business was sold last year to Thomas H. Lee Partners, a Boston private equity firm.

Van Elslander is credited with saving Detroit's Thanksgiving parade. In December, he said he was donating $20 million to expand the Solanus Casey Center in Detroit, named for a Roman Catholic priest who is on a path to sainthood.

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