William Pickard: Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, Educator, Community Activist

By Paul Hubbard
Guest Column

William “Bill” Pickard a renowned African American entrepreneur and philanthropist passed away at age 83 peacefully on June 12, 2024, at his West Palm Beach home with his family surrounding him.

Pickard, affectionally known as Doc earned a master’s degree in social work from the University of Michigan and a PHD from The Ohio State University.

Bill was borne in LaGrange, Georgia, and grew up in Flint, Michigan. He and his partners were some of the first Blacks to own a McDonald’s franchise in the country. It was located in Detroit.

Pickard went on to own Global Auto Alliance Manufacturing and supply management and GAA New Ventures. He was also co-managing partner of MGM Casino Detroit and owner of five Black newspapers including the Michigan Chronical.

Bill Pickard and Paul Hubbard during Pickard’s 83 birthday celebration at West Palm Beach PGA Club

Pickard served on numerous businesses and non-profit boards including the National Urban League, Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the Detroit Black Chamber of Commerce. He received hundreds of awards including the Michigan Lifetime Humanitarian Award.

Bill has also published two books.

Packard established the Dr. Don Baker Scholarship fund at the University of Toledo, where he was also a speaker a few years ago. In his early years he was president of the Cleveland Urban League. He was an active brother in the National Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.

Bill was the ambassador between Nassau, Bahamas and Detroit, Michigan.  Bill and I both served on Grand Valley University board and a building is named after him there.
Bill was a major contributor to the Martin Luther King memorial statue in Washington, D.C. He contributed to HBCUs and was also a visiting professor to many of the HBCUs. He contributed to Wayne State University including setting up a scholarship fund name after Paul Hubbard and having a Wayne State Community Room named after me.

He had a building named after Former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer and a building named Roy Roberts at Western Michigan University
Dr Bill Pickard was one of the top African American businessmen in the USA. He had a presidential appointment to the International World Bank. However, he always kept the needs of our Black community in mind. He was dedicated to lifting the members of the Black Community especially Black males. Bill was a multi-millionaire but always shared his wealth. Bill was a godly Black Man who was an asset to the world.

Paul L. Hubbard, MSW, President Comfort Care.