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Bill Davidson, 1922-2009

From Chris McCosky:

Pistons owner William Davidson died Friday night at his home, Pistons spokesman Matt Dobek said. He was 86.

His health had been failing the past couple of years and he was confined to a wheelchair. His normally regular visits to The Palace for Pistons games were very infrequent. He attended only two home games this season.

Cause of death wasn't released.

"There is a huge hole in our hearts tonight," said president of Palace Sports and Entertainment Tom Wilson in an interview on WWJ-950. "This really is somebody that you thought would go on forever. He seemed to have nine lives, and every one of them was jovial and optimistic and positive. He was a forward-looking person. He was a guy who never dwelled on mistakes, he had so much positive energy. He was the most eternal optimist even.

"It's an overwhelming presence we've lost."

Mr. Davidson lived a full life as a successful businessman and charitable benefactor, but understandably, most of us related to him as fans. With that in mind, I think a lot of us share the sentiments aptly expressed by Mike Payne earlier this evening:

We should certainly not feel bad for the guy, he lived one hell of a life and died very late. He earned SEVEN championships from the Pistons, the Shock and the Tampa Bay Lightning, on top of owning his successful auto business. Point being, now that he’s laid to rest, it’s a chance for us to celebrate the positive things he achieved. So while my first instinct was sadness, its a good chance to look back on an extraordinary business man who took the Ft. Wayne Zollner Pistons and turned them into a repeated champion, not to mention one of the few profitable teams in the NBA. Quite a lot to look up to.

With that, RIP, Mr. D. May you sleep quietly and contently, knowing you lived a life that few aspire to.

From WXYZ's Tom Leyden:

In addition to accomplishments as a professional sports owner, Davidson was one of metro Detroit’s most notable philanthropists, responsible for more than $200 million in donations to local and international charities and universities.

Organizations and municipalities that have benefited from his generosity include the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, the University of Michigan, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovet, Israel, the Karmanos Cancer Institute and Children’s Research Center of Michigan, the city of Detroit’s Parks and Recreation Department, Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem and countless others.

In 1997, Davidson was honored for his philanthropy by the Council of Michigan Foundations and also named one of America’s most generous donors by the New York Times.