DETROIT – Art Van Elslander, the founder of Michigan-based Art Van Furniture, has passed away at the age of 87.
Van Elslander died of complications from lung cancer, which he had beaten over a year ago.
“My family is heartbroken by the loss of our father,” said Gary Van Elslander, President of Van Elslander Capital, and Mr. Van Elslander’s eldest son.
Art Van Elslander opened his first store on Gratiot Avenue and 10 Mile Road back in 1959.
Known then as Art Van’s, Mr. Van Elslander was the sole employee of the store, which featured Danish and contemporary home furnishings. Though Detroit's economy was struggling, the company grew and later the name was changed to the current Art Van Furniture.
In 1973, Art Van Furniture moved its headquarters from 12 Mile and Van Dyke Road to the 14 Mile location in Warren, where it is still located today.
Today, the company operates 100 stores throughout Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, and Indiana.
Van Elslander is survived by his ten children, wife Mary Ann, several grand children and great grand children.
The Van Elslanders have a long history of philanthropy and have been honored by several local organizations throughout the years for their charitable contributions and staunch community support, including: Angels Place, the Michigan Cancer Foundation, Goodfellows, Catholic Youth Organization, Michigan Patrons of the Arts (Artrain), National Anti-Defamation League (American Heritage Award) and The Parade Company.
Art Van Elslander was a 1992 winner of the Max M. Fisher Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals.
Van Elslander was recently named a Crain's Detroit Newsmaker of the Year for 2017.
The City of Detroit lost one of its greatest supporters and philanthropists today. Furniture may have been Art Van Elslander’s business, but Detroit has always been his heart.— Mayor Mike Duggan (@MayorMikeDuggan) February 12, 2018
There will never be another “Art Van.” He will be terribly missed and fondly remembered.
Here are some old interview's with Art Van Elslander during the Thanksgiving Parade: