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Marvin I. Danto, executive, design center developer

BLOOMFIELD Hills, Mich. — Marvin I. Danto, a retired home furnishings executive and founder of the Michigan Design Center and Design Center of the Americas, has died at age 95.

Danto, an Army veteran who served in World War II, began his home furnishings careers as assistant manager of Englander Furniture Shops in 1945. He was eventually named president of the retailer before leaving in 1968 to join Englander-Triangle. Danto was CEO and chairman the eight-store furniture and interior design business for five years. Under his leadership, the store was twice named Outstanding Store in America by the National Assn. of Casual Furniture Manufacturers.

After a short retirement, Danto began building the Michigan Design Center in Troy in 1975. The building was the first one-floor design center in the country when it opened in 1977 and has since grown to 210,000 square feet. In 1982, he opened the Design Center of the Americas in Dania, Fla. He sold the 775,000-square-foot property in 2005.

Danto was an active member of the National Home Furnishings Assn., serving as the retailer group's president and in 1971 as its chairman. He was also president of the World Assn. of Merchandise Marts and an officer of the American Craft Council.

Danto was CEO and chairman of the Danto Investment Co., Michigan Design Center, and Broward (Fla.) International Commerce Center and served on the boards and committees of numerous civic groups.

He is survived by one son, two daughters, five grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and a sister.

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