Mark Milano, 55, owner of the tool-and-die business he co-founded 35 years ago, died of cancer Wednesday in Flower Hospital.
Mr. Milano of Sylvania Township was president of M&F Machine & Tool Inc. in Temperance. He continued working until three weeks ago.
"He loved his employees, and he really felt that they needed him, and he was there," his wife, Sondra, said. "His company was his pride and joy. He's run it for a lot of years, and it was important to him."
His son Nick, who has worked there the last 1 1/2 years, said: "It was his baby. Through the worst of it, when he was going through chemotherapy hard, he was there every day."
Mr. Milano learned he had a sarcoma 3 1/2 years ago. He saw doctors through the Cleveland Clinic and the University of Michigan, but conventional treatments didn't work. He was referred to South Texas Accelerated Research Therapeutics in San Antonio to take part in clinical trials of research drugs.
"We spent every week flying back and forth," his wife said. "We saw a lot of people being cured, and we had hope.
"He was a rock. He was the one who made it easy for the family to get through it," she said. "He never gave up the fight, even up to the end when it was clear there wouldn't be a cure."
Mr. Milano began to work at his father's company, Ort Tool & Die, after he graduated from Bedford High School.
"He started out running machines," his wife said. "It was what he knew. That's what he always wanted to do. That's why he didn't go to college. It was his passion."
In 1972, he, his brother Michael, and brother-in-law, Sonny Price, began M&F Machine & Tool. Mark and Michael's father, Angelo, was supportive and helped them get started.
"All three of them worked a lot of long, hard hours and were willing to sacrifice," his wife said. "They were good at what they did."
Mr. Milano was a supporter of machine trades programs at Monroe, Bedford, and Whitmer high schools and hired their students, his son said.
"That's what he did - he worked in a machine shop as a high schooler," his son Nick said.
Mr. Milano's passion contributed to his success, said Pat Flynn, who met Mr. Milano through the business 30 years ago and became a friend.
"He was very bright," Mr. Flynn said. "But more importantly, it was the passion that drove him in all phases of life with his family, with his work, with friendship."
Mr. Milano was a member of Sylvania Country Club and a fierce competitor on the golf course, said his friend Mike Gibbons.
"He and I were golfing buddies," Mr. Gibbons said. "He never gave up. He was a fun-loving guy, outgoing. He had a funny temper. He'd blow up for two seconds, and then he'd be laughing about it."
Mr. Milano coached his sons in baseball when they were young and, later, made time to attend their sporting events as they went through school.
He and his wife traveled widely, from Europe - where they took their children for two of their three visits - to Hawaii and Japan.
Surviving are his wife, Sondra Milano, whom he married Aug. 15, 1984; sons, Nicholas, Michael, and Zachary; mother, Mary Jane Milano-Takas; father, Angelo Milano; sister, Janis Price, and brothers, Michael and Robert Milano.
Services will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow in the Walker Funeral Home, where the body will be at 2 p.m. today.
The family suggests tributes to Care for a Cure in care of South Texas Accelerated Research Therapeutics, or START, in San Antonio.