Community Leader Ed Deeb ‘Roasted & Toasted’

Sparty and Ed Deeb

Some of the Detroit area’s broadcast and community giants came together to “Roast & Toast” Edward Deeb, chairman and founder of Michigan Food and Beverage Association and Michigan Business and Professional Association. The May 17, 2012 event featured words of appreciation as well as some fun-loving barbs for Deeb, who was honored for 50 years of being an association and community leader. Deeb is also editor-at-large of Corp! magazine.

A crowd of nearly 350 people joined master of ceremonies Paul W. Smith of WJR-AM Radio, who introduced and traded quips with roasters Carmen Harlan of WDIV-TV 4, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, Detroit Lions great Lem Barney, Detroit Free Press columnist Carol Cain, Big Al Muskavito, formerly of the Dick Purtan radio show, Salvation Army Col. Clarence Harvey and others.

Paul W. Smith

In addition to his long and successful association career, Deeb is the co-founder of Metro Detroit Youth Day, held each July to inspire Detroit area youth to do the most good and become good citizens. This year marks the 30th anniversary of this huge event, which hosts more than 35,000 youngsters on Belle Isle. He was also the driving force at historic Eastern Market, championing its revitalization. He is chairman emeritus of Eastern Market area merchants, was founder and past president of Friends of Eastern Market and co-founder and board member of Eastern Market Corp.

Some other accomplishments include solving problems between store owners and residents, starting the Women and Leadership in the Workplace Conference to award prominent women leaders in our community, and establishing Scouting for the Handicapped to allow mentally and physically challenged boys and girls to experience the scouting experience.

“How do you roast and toast a cupcake like Ed Deeb?” joked Smith, as he welcomed the audience.

Carmen Harlan

Television broadcaster Carmen Harlan kicked off the roast by recalling how she met Deeb years ago when she first started in the Detroit market. “Ed got a call from one of our assignment editors -“ 34 years ago -“ saying ‘We’ve got a consumer reporter and we want her to work with you and others to bring quality food into the Detroit area.’ That’s how I met Ed Deeb many years ago. I’ve also had the honor to work with him on various projects, but more importantly, he’s someone I admire and someone that I am proud to call a friend.”

Harlan asked the audience to stand and continued, “Ed, you’re a shining example of what one person can do to make this world a better place. We thank you for being the person that you are, for setting the standard of life so very high, and for not just reaching the stars, but for adding an extra sparkle to our community. The people you have helped are countless and the impact you’ve had is immeasurable. And as we begin this night in celebration in honor of you, please know that you have taught us valuable lessons. Thank you for the opportunity to let us all be here tonight and to say job well done, my friend, job well done.”

Next up to the lectern was retired Detroit Lions player Lem Barney, a Pro Football Hall of Famer who has worked with Deeb for years to better the community.

Lem Barney

“I’m honored, I’m delighted and extraordinarily excited to be here at this lectern tonight speaking of such a great person – a great spirit a great man as Ed Deeb,” said Barney. “A giver -“ that’s what Ed Deeb is. Ed is a giver and when I met him I was doing my tenure at Consolidated Gas and Ed called me over to his office to talk about perhaps enlisting some other athletes (to participate in Metro Detroit Youth Day). Particularly Lions because I was a Detroit Lion, but not only Lions, we got Red Wings, we got Pistons, we got Tiger players as well to come out and support the dream that Ed Deeb had and that has lived for a number of years out on Belle Isle. Every year we’d have so many kids out there and so many athletes who gave of their time, their precious time and energy. But knowing Ed for as long as I have, it will always be embedded deep in my memory, of a gentleman that has great compassion and has great love and he has a great concern for humankind.”

After the heartfelt tributes by Harlan and Barney, the audience was treated to some good-natured joking by Salvation Army Col. Clarence Harvey. Deeb is a past chairman of The Salvation Army’s Metro Detroit Advisory Board.

Col. Clarence Harvey

“If there’s anything I can do to help you, let me know. Ever hear that one?” asked Harvey. “Is there anything I can do to help you -“ saying that to me is a lifelong commitment that Ed Deeb was going to make to The Salvation Army. You have to understand that every celebrity has a merchandise clothing outlet that they represent. They have their sponsors. Well, we at The Salvation Army are privileged to have our celebrity Ed, who buys his clothes at The Salvation Army 20 thrift stores throughout different areas. And you look good, Ed. And, he’s been doing that for the 25 years that I’ve been associated with him. Of course, we have to give him a discount.”

Poking a bit of fun at Deeb’s propensity to acknowledge people, Harvey continued: “Now, how many of you have received certificates from Ed? Raise your hand [nearly all the hands of the audience go up]. Look at it, Ed. How many of you have received certificates even if you didn’t go to one of his events? And how many of you received certificates just because he sent out these certificates and he thinks that you’re a nice person? And how many of you have used these certificates for litter boxes? C’mon, be honest with me, now. -¦ you validate people, we all concur with that by the hands raised here, Ed. We know whether we come to your events or not, we know we are on your list and we’ll be recognized with great appreciation. And I think that’s a wonderful thing because we don’t even have to go.”

Russ Russell

After joking more with Deeb, Harvey closed by telling the audience, “The Others Award is the highest award that The Salvation Army gives. Ed Deeb received the Others Award and the word ‘others’ describes this man.”

Harvey, who co-chaired the roast event, was followed by nonprofit leader and roast co-chair Russ Russell of Forgotten Harvest.

“I have the top 10 list about the things about Ed Deeb that you just didn’t know. You all know he was the co-founder of Eastern Market Association. But what you don’t know, -¦ when (Eastern Market) first opened, you were there in 1891. We all know that Ed is involved in charitable causes -¦ The Salvation Army, Forgotten Harvest, Boy Scouts, Metro Detroit Youth Day. What you don’t know is Ed chooses which organizations he wants to be a part of. Like joining because of the quality of the free lunch. We all know that Ed has coined the phrase ‘flowers for the living.’ Ed, when I think of you I think of flowers for the living. But what you don’t know tonight is that the flowers on the tables are from the funeral home.”

Russell closed with these thoughts: “I appreciate you. Ed, you’re a friend, a mentor of mine. God bless you.”

L. Brooks Patterson

The grins and chuckles continued when Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson came forward to offer his words about Deeb.

“We’re here tonight to honor Edward Deeb. A man who once sold his car for gasoline. How do you roast a guy like Ed Deeb? He’s one of the really good guys-¦ I don’t want to say that my friend Ed is getting older, but he thinks getting lucky means finding his car in the parking lot. I don’t care where you go around town, and this is true, everyone knows Ed Deeb. We were having lunch about a month ago at Eastern Market. We came out of the restaurant and some homeless gentleman sitting on the sidewalk said, ‘Excuse me, Mr. Deeb, I haven’t eaten in four days.’ Ed looked at him and said, ‘Damn, I wish I had your willpower.’ There was a time when Ed was not in the food and beverage industry. He graduated from Michigan State with a degree in journalism and advertising. For a while he tried his hand at advertising. He’s credited with coming up with the line ‘good to the last drop’ -“ unfortunately, his client was Otis Elevator.”

Carol Cain

After giving the audience some good laughs at Deeb’s expense, Patterson closed by saying, “I’m just kidding. I love this guy.”

The remarks turned once again to appreciation for Deeb when Carol Cain, senior producer and host of CBS-TV 62’s “Michigan Matters” and a columnist for the Detroit Free Press.

Cain told Deeb, “You’ve had such an incredible career. Been an inspiration to so many of us -“ words just cannot do justice of all that you have done, accomplished and meant to so many people -“ which is why we’re here. What can I say about a man who has been admired, revered and loved by every single person in this room? And I have to say when I was first contacted I was very thrilled and excited to be doing this, but it was also a challenge because what the hell do you say about Ed -“ it’s like talking about Mother Teresa. You are the most positive man in Detroit.”

Mona Gualtieri

Mona Gualtieri of Executive Vehicle Sales, a recipient of the Women and Leadership in the Workplace award in 2000, an event created by Deeb in 1997, came to the lectern to provide another perspective on Deeb.

“I got involved with Ed a few years ago and am probably one of those who are thankful for when you get attached to Ed Deeb. We started a good friendship and a good professional relationship many years ago. Ed was somewhat of a mentor to me and I depended on him for a lot of advice and he helped with my company. We’d have lunches or breakfasts. He’s a big breakfast guy. I’m not,” said Gualtieri. We all know the many things that Ed has accomplished in his career. He’s always the go-to, when you need anything. He has the answers. Seriously, he’s such a force in this town that I know that every morning Ed picks up the phone and calls dial-a-prayer to see if he has any messages. That’s who he is. We’re blessed to have someone like Ed fighting for Detroit and its kids -¦ And then, he started this professional group for women. I thought: how clever. This man has all the top women in Detroit, once a month, at the DAC for breakfast. What a great way to pick up chicks, I thought. As we know, that is not true. After meeting (his wife) Joanne, who I admire greatly, what an amazing woman, he’ll be the first to tell you that he owes much of his success to her love and support all these years. I admire him greatly. Not only is he a help to Detroit, but he is a help to people.”

Ray Deeb

The roasting and toasting wrapped up with remarks from Deeb’s brother, Ray Deeb.

“Ed’s been a wonderful brother. He’s been a best friend, a brother, a mentor to me. I just want you to know that we really love you and think highly of you.”

After hearing the barbs, quips and appreciative remarks, Ed Deeb expressed his thanks to the audience.

“The people I work with are all top notch. My caring and loving family has been an inspiration. My thanks go out to all of you,” he said. He ended the evening by recounting how he coined the phrase “Flowers for the Living” in 1982.

“I was at a funeral home where I heard people extolling the virtues of the deceased in the casket. And I said, ‘Isn’t it a shame that the deceased did not hear the plaudits while she was alive.’ So I began a campaign called ‘Flowers for the Living,’ whereby I and our organizations would honor or compliment persons for a job well done. Each year, we give out more than 5,000 plaques or certificates to those persons who deserved recognition for what they have done. Ladies and gentlemen, you have given me the flowers.”

Ed Deeb thanks the audience.

Proceeds from the “Roast & Toast” event ticket sales and a silent auction benefited the nonprofit Michigan Youth Appreciation Foundation, which supports Metro Detroit Youth Day, The Prize Coalition Scholarship Program and Project Hunger -“ all charitable organizations where Deeb has been a leading force.