In honor of the 60th anniversary of the iconic Marshall Fredericks sculpture, “The Spirit of Detroit,” the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum will be hosting a fundraiser May 12 in downtown Detroit.

In honor of the 60th anniversary of the iconic Marshall Fredericks sculpture, “The Spirit of Detroit,” the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum will be hosting a fundraiser May 12 in downtown Detroit.

Photo provided by the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum


Detroit’s ‘Spirit’ to be celebrated

By: K. Michelle Moran | C&G Newspapers | Published May 8, 2018

 Bill and Sue Vititoe, of Grosse Pointe City, who were friends and supporters of the late artist Marshall Fredericks, will be honored by the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum for their work.

Bill and Sue Vititoe, of Grosse Pointe City, who were friends and supporters of the late artist Marshall Fredericks, will be honored by the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum for their work.

Photo provided by the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum

DETROIT — It’s a symbol of the city that is seen everywhere, and that’s exactly what acclaimed artist Marshall M. Fredericks intended when he created the iconic “The Spirit of Detroit” sculpture.

“He did not copyright it,” said Sue Vititoe, of Grosse Pointe City, who was friends with the late Fredericks, who died in 1998. “That’s why you see (the design) everywhere. It’s really for the public.”

“The Spirit of Detroit” — which was dedicated in 1958 in front of downtown’s Coleman A. Young Municipal Center — is marking its 60th anniversary this year, and in honor of this occasion, the Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum is hosting a celebration from 6 to 10 p.m. May 12 at 1 Woodward Avenue in Detroit.

Sue Vititoe and her husband, Bill, will be honored that evening as the first recipients of the Marshall Fredericks Legacy Award, which museum officials said was created to recognize those who have made an important and lasting impact on the museum and on Saginaw Valley State University, upon whose campus the museum is located.

The celebration will include music by Ben Sharkey and the Marion Hayden Jazz Trio, a reception, dinner and more, and ticket prices range from $60 to $250. Proceeds from the event will benefit the museum’s educational and exhibition programs.

Sue and Bill Vititoe both knew Fredericks personally and were supporters of his work. They’ve also been significant supporters of the museum that bears the artist’s name. Sue Vititoe has been a member of the advisory board since 1999 and was the board chair from 2003 until April 2017.

Sue Vititoe said her husband is a former president of Michigan Bell, and they both are longtime Detroit boosters. She said she worked on initiatives to save Orchestra Hall — home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra — as well as serving on the executive boards of the Detroit Institute of Arts and Michigan Opera Theatre, among others. She said that they’re both thrilled to see the city’s comeback.

“I think it’s very exciting for us,” Sue Vititoe said. “I love everything that’s happening downtown.”

The Marshall Fredericks whom Sue Vititoe remembers was “a really great man” as well as “a really great artist,” she said.

“He really had a good sense of humor,” she said. “Lots of his sculptures are (of) animals and things that will make people smile.”

Visitors to Fredericks’ museum can not only see his work, but can also learn more about his artistic process and his life.

Sue Vititoe said she hopes that this event draws attention and visitors to the nonprofit museum, which opened to the public in May 1988 and features dozens of Fredericks’ artworks and more, including his plaster and bronze models and molds, tools and equipment, personal and business papers, and architectural site models.

“People need to realize that it is there and it is an attraction (worth visiting),” Sue Vititoe said.

Those affiliated with the museum say the Vititoes are fitting recipients of the museum honor.

“I have worked closely with Sue since I became director of the Marshall M. Fredericks Museum in late 2006,” museum Director Marilyn Wheaton said in a press release. “She has been an ideal partner in leading the museum to first-time accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums, and believing in the value and importance of strategic planning for the long-term benefit of the museum.”

Fredericks, who taught at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, created artworks that can be found at public sites around the country. His many accomplishments included the National Sculpture Society’s greatest award, the Medal of Honor. Although the couple settled in Oakland County, Sue Vititoe said his late wife, Rosalind Cooke Fredericks, was a Grosse Pointe Farms native. Some of Fredericks’ children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be on hand for the anniversary celebration, Sue Vititoe said.

For tickets or more information about the celebration or the museum, visit the museum website at marshallfredericks.org.