MICHAEL GEORGE DEGROOTE
AUGUST 13, 1933 – September 12, 2022
It is with great sadness that the family of Michael George DeGroote announce his recent passing almost a month after his 89th birthday. Michael was a proud father to four children: Gary (Laurie) DeGroote, Joni Tipping, Tim DeGroote, and Michael Jr. (Carrie) DeGroote. A devoted grandfather to 12 grandchildren: Jena (Brad), Jesse (Shantelle), Jacki, Jameson (Mary), Brandon (Loren), Devin (Caitlyn), Shane, Megan (Evan), Victoria, Mikaela, Michael III and Christopher, as well as a proud great-grandfather to 11 great-grandchildren Keilan, Taysen, Nash, Summer, Rose, Mavrik, Maxis, Skye, Miles, Cooper and Sully. He always said his lucky number was 13 (also his date of birth) and was hoping for 2 more great-grandchildren to reach that lucky number. Michael’s goal was to have a special relationship and connection with each and every one of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and took great pride in saying “look what I started”!
Michael was born in Flanders, Belgium on August 13, 1933, and immigrated to Canada after World War II in 1948, at the age of 14, to build a better life… and that is exactly what he did! His life started with humble beginnings, working on a tobacco farm with his family until he was 18 and then bought his first used truck to haul fertilizer to farmers and transport Uranium. In 1959, he purchased Laidlaw Transport, a small Canadian trucking operation, and during the next 31 years with his leadership became one of the fastest growing companies in it’s day. Laidlaw also became North America’s largest school bus operator and in 1975 Laidlaw bought a small waste company, which then became the third largest waste company in North America. Laidlaw was Canada’s number 1 Growth Stock for 17 straight years on the TSX. In 1988, the company was sold and he became one of the youngest billionaires in Canada. He also received the “Officer of the Order of Canada” award from the Governor General of Canada. In 1990, Michael resigned and retired to Bermuda. But after three months of retirement and no surprise, he was bored. He had to continue his business endeavors, which included purchasing Republic Industries, which became Century Business Services Inc., which by the year 2000 became the 7th largest accounting firm in the USA. In 1995, he joined forces with Wayne Huizenga with Republic Industries and then AutoNation, the largest US auto retailer. Later he became the force behind Waste Services Inc., and Progressive Waste Services. He enjoyed every minute of his varied and distinguished business career because he was innovated, persistent and a self-professed dealmaker. He would never leave a boardroom until the deal was complete, fair and to his liking!
Outside of business, he also believed in giving back to the community that got him started. His generosity as a philanthropist was trailblazing in its size and impact, with his donations particularly to McMaster University and Hillfield Strathallan College. It made him very proud to be able to contribute knowing how it will impact future generations to better themselves with education. Education was a liberty he always wished he could have experienced. You can imagine the joy when McMaster University awarded him an Honorary Degree at the opening of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine and Hillfield Strathallan College gave him an honourary High School Degree.
Although his successes were many, nothing really would match the pure joy of his time with family. Once he had some time to relax from all of his hard work, it was very clear that whether it was on the Beaches of Naples or the Shores of Bermuda or Cruising through the oceans around the world… Nothing was better than the quality time he would have when surrounded with family and special friends. At Christmas, when the house was completely loaded up full of family fun chaos, in which there was never a dull moment, he always made a habit of carving out time for one-on-one chats with each of his children and grandchildren. He wanted to get caught up on our lives and our goals. You could always count on him to then take great pleasure in “advising” on our lives and bringing “reality” to our goals!
He will be remembered for his ingenuity, compassion, grit, and blunt sense of humor!
A Private Family Funeral Service and Celebration of Michael’s Life will be held back in his hometown of Langton, Ontario. Funeral arrangements are incomplete at press time. Arrangements will soon be announced via Michael’s online tribute page at www.verhoevefuneralhomes.com. Memorial donations to “Sacred Heart Church- Building Fund,” would be greatly appreciated by the DeGroote Family and can be made via Michael’s online tribute page or by contacting the Maurice J. Verhoeve Funeral Homes- Burial and Cremation Services Inc., 40 Queen Street, Langton (519-842-4238), which has been entrusted with all funeral services, with confidence.
“Special thank you to Dr. Laurie Troup (Naples), Dr. Angela Marini (Bermuda), Dr. Akbar Panju (Canada) and to his incredible nurses Nancy Cirella and Lisa Curry, who provided him with not only immense care but also lots of good laughter and joking around when life got tough.”
This weekend when you have a moment to reflect please raise a toast to this amazing father, grandfather, great-grandfather, friend and colleague that so many will miss!
God Speed Michael
It’s been a blessing and a gift to have you in our lives!
Our most sincere sympathies to the family and friends of Michael George DeGroote September 12th 2022..
Death notice for the town of: Tillsonburg, Province: Ontario