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Thread: 3WC Passes

  1. #1

    Default 3WC Passes

    I am greatly saddened to report the passing of the forum’s 3WC and my very close personal friend Tony Pieroni who passed last night, after a brief illness, in his sleep surrounded by his loving wife and family. His passing was not unexpected but still comes as a gut punch and I will miss him greatly.

    I met Tony not long after my 1997 online publication of the Fabulous Ruins of Detroit tour which included the famous Michigan Theater garage. As owner of the Michigan Building and garage, he emailed me mildly objecting that my presentation did not note the fact that the Michigan Building was a viable and largely-occupied business property. [BTW he acquired the building in the late 80’s and was not responsible for the theater’s gutting and conversion to parking.]

    Being a supporter of positive Detroit efforts, I replied that I was happy to hear that and said I would, and did, add text to reflect it. A meet up lunch followed and we became fast friends, regular lunch partners and Detroit explorers ever since.

    The event played a large role in my determining to move beyond telling the story of Detroit, through its ruins, of how Detroit became what is was in 1997, to refocusing the website toward what Detroit could become and creating the DetroitYES Project and this forum.

    We were an odd couple. Our political views were largely at opposite ends and we had disagreements over the present and future of Detroit, but we respected our differences and made our points without rancor because we both cared deeply about the future of our city and country. Tony likewise had other friends of divergent viewpoints and was someone who, while remaining steady in his beliefs, never closed his ears or mind to ideas. I try to do the same and that deepened our mutual respect and friendship.

    Over the years we had hundreds of meetups and explored the nooks and crannies of Detroit’s art, development, and restaurant scene. I learned a wealth of information from his experiences as a real estate lawyer with projects in Florida, Puerto Rico and Michigan, as a Michigan and Texas oil lease holder and developer, and even as owner of a private fishing trawler in Kodiak, Alaska. Many of you will recall his highly-informed posts on the inner-workings of Detroit developments and the intricacies of their financing. Now you know why.

    Outwardly he was physically a big guy and a fearless rough-and-tumble businessman, but he had a soft heart and was generous to a fault. He long-encouraged me to take an office for DetroitYES in the Michigan Building and, when we did in 2011, he offered it for free. I ‘almost had to fight him’ to insist I at least pay for utility costs! Likewise he has left a trail of good works quietly assisting little guys threatened by lawsuits or getting them started in businesses.

    He generously allowed visitors to view his iconic and historic Detroit site—The Michigan Theater where I had the delight of parking my car. If you were one, thank him. I told him he was crazy; some jerk was certain to sue him. Tony, never one to be intimidated, did it anyway. Thankfully nothing ever happened and countless thousands of grateful viewers from around the world were enlightened and deeply thankful for the experience.

    Tony is survived by his wife, six children, a number grandchildren and five siblings. He was 80 full of life years old.

    Thank you my friend, I will miss you more than I can express.

    *************

    Tony at the 333 Midland “Big Painting” exhibition in Highland Park in 2014.


    Lunch deep in Mexicantown at La Posada on Springwells—Tony letting me use him as a foil to sneak a candid shot of the humble restaurant with its pińatas.


    Visiting Galapagos Detroit’s Robert Elmes at his Highland Park HS site. Elmes briefly negotiated to buy the Michigan Building and theater.


    And, fittingly, in his Michigan Theater garage in 2015.


    [This tribute will be moved to the Connections forum in the near future.]

  2. #2

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    Thanks for sharing your knowledge and memories of 3WC. My best wishes are with his friends, family, and the members of this community.

  3. #3

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    I had known Tony for 20 years. He seemed like a gruff person at times, but he really was a gentle soul... who was always there to help others.

    He owned the Michigan Building for over 2 decades, and that's how I came to know him. He was a businessman, who never fully understood why people from around the world would come to Detroit to visit his building/former theatre, and he always allowed them to tour the former theatre space.

    About 10 years ago I was working with him to give a DYES tour of the surviving closed off portions of the theatre, but without railings in many of the more dangerous spaces, he was worried that someone might get hurt (I only ever made it up to the 5th level, and broke my glasses in the first sub-basement).

    I last talked with him in December, when he told me that he had cancer, and the prognosis was not good.

    I am one of those "little guys" that Tony helped legally, with his own money, and I thank God for that. He also helped my sister and I to avoid probate when our mother passed away almost 10 years ago.

    Tony will be missed by his friends and family.... RIP Tony.
    Last edited by Gistok; February-01-19 at 03:53 PM.

  4. #4

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    May he rest in peace.

  5. #5

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    Very sorry to hear of Mr. Pieroni's passing. An gruff, interesting and real nice guy. He was a fixture in the downtown Detroit business community of an earlier era. He was a Detroit supporter who invested here when many wouldn't, but yet he also clung stubbornly to a pessimism about the place probably because he had witnessed so much decline. Condolences to his family.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by swingline View Post
    Very sorry to hear of Mr. Pieroni's passing. An gruff, interesting and real nice guy. He was a fixture in the downtown Detroit business community of an earlier era. He was a Detroit supporter who invested here when many wouldn't, but yet he also clung stubbornly to a pessimism about the place probably because he had witnessed so much decline. Condolences to his family.
    Hi Swingline... your comments are spot on. But I believe that part of Tony's pessimism sprang from city government. Especially the Kwame Administration. Oh the stories that Lowell and I could tell! But that's for another thread, at another time...

  7. #7

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    Sorry to hear this. Condolences to his family.

    I only met him once. It must have been early in his ownership of the theatre. He was a pleasure to meet, and helped me with a small insignificant issue. I appreciated it.

    RIP

  8. #8

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    Let me begin by offering my condolences to Lowell and to other friends or family of 3WC (Tony Pieroni).

    Simply put, I never had the privilege to meet the man; and can't say all my exchanges here with him were easy (we certainly disagreed on many things); but in the telling of the man's life, he seems to have been a very kind soul, who was certainly a positive in contributing to the welfare of many.

    For that, he has my utmost respect.

  9. #9

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    Rest in peace. Didn't know he owned that building. Sounds like he was a great business man, well liked person and generous as well. Condolences to his family.

  10. #10

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    A nice tribute to your friend. My condolences to his friends and family.

  11. #11

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    I did not know him but I send my condolences.

  12. #12

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    I also didn’t know him other than here but I respected his beliefs even when I didn’t agree. Fair adversary, he was smart enough to know that stupid stuff like Obama’s birth certificate was just that. He wouldn’t pound it at you 50 times because he had enough brains to know that politics doesn’t beat simple facts.

    My condolences to his family and friends. He will be missed.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by swingline View Post
    He was a Detroit supporter who invested here when many wouldn't, but yet he also clung stubbornly to a pessimism about the place probably because he had witnessed so much decline. Condolences to his family.
    Pessimism is an apropo word to described 3rd World City's posts on this website. Obviously, he was a very, very smart, accomplished, and knowledgeable businessman. I very much appreciated his viewpoints and contributions to the forum.

    I didn't know 3WC's background before this thread, but now that I do know, I can understand where he was coming from.

    80 years is a good length of time to live. I hope I can make it that far. Rest in Peace.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by One Shot View Post
    I did not know him but I send my condolences.
    I, too, didn't know the guy, but he sounding like a treasure trove of Detroit history and an all-around good guy. He'll undoubtedly be missed.

    My condolences to those affected by his loss.

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