CHICAGO, June 28 (Xinhua) -- After fighting with COVID-19 for three weeks, U.S. Michigan entrepreneur Milan Stevanovich left the world in mid-April. He was 56.
Stevanovich wasn't feeling well in late March. The doctors gave him a COVID-19 test and said he had a mild case. He put up a tough fight, but COVID-19 was too strong and took his life, as it has done to 500,000 people worldwide, among more than 10 million cases.
Tom Watkins, former Michigan superintendent of schools, has known Stevanovich for nearly a decade. "We worked together to generate support in business, politics, education and educational bridge building between China and the United States. We work together on both sides of the Pacific," Watkins told Xinhua. "I have great memories, and we had good laughs and success in making connections that have benefited both the Chinese (people) and the people of Michigan."
Stevanovich served as vice president of global strategy for Detroit Chinese Business Association (DCBA) in the last seven years, when he facilitated relationships and meetings between CEOs and government leaders that resulted in jobs coming to Michigan and helped build two-way economic bridges between China and the U.S. Midwest state of Michigan.
"It was hard to tell where the job ended as Milan was relentless in finding ways to connect Michigan and China every waking hour. Many joked that Milan even worked on deals to build this vital bridge between Michigan and China in his sleep," Watkins said.
He said that Stevanovich was full of energy and passion. "He had the curiosity of a child, a quick wit, an infectious smile and a drive to find ways to build bridges and make connections that would add value to both Michigan and China."
"During these tough times when relations between the two largest world economies are strained we need people like Milan Stevanovich more than ever," Watkins said. "Milan had a disarming way about him, a genuine nature to see good in all and to seek common ground that would produce win-win opportunities."
After learning about Stevanovich's death, Chinese Consul General in Chicago Zhao Jian sent condolences: "We highly appreciated his friendship toward the Chinese people and his contributions to our bilateral relations. His generosity and kindness, his love of the Chinese culture and passion in advocating people-to-people exchanges will be greatly missed."
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer lauded Stevanovich as a true believer in the power of connecting people. "He was passionate about the ability to have people from various backgrounds and experiences come together to do something great."
In the eyes of Watkins, Stevanovich was a dreamer, a believer with a sense of humor and a laser focus to build connections that produced results. "He was constantly looking at ways to make connections that led to good things happening. He had a can-do spirit."
To DCBA President Brian Gao, Stevanovich was a good man with a big heart, and was fun to be around. Most importantly, "(he) is a devoted father who adored his daughter, Chanel."
Influenced by her father, Chanel began taking Mandarin language lessons when she was four years old. She is graduating from high school this year and is proficient in Mandarin as well as Serbian/Macedonian.
"Chanel has all the gifts of her father and is certain to carry on her dad's passion for building cultural and economic ties with China and the world," Watkins said.
"China and Michigan lost a good man who made it his mission to create economic and cultural connections between the great state of Michigan and China," Watkins said emotionally. "I and many others lost a friend, a colleague, a passionate advocate who we had worked arm in arm to build bridges rather than digging moats and erecting walls between Michigan/America and China."
"Milan woke up every day with a desire to make the world a little bit better, and he did," he said. Enditem