Milan Stevanovich

| May 3, 2020 | 0 Comments
A Photo I took of Milan with Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao

At the beginning of April I got a video by text message of a group of mostly young Chinese people offering well wishes to Milan Stevanovich. They were all expressing support and the hope that he would get well soon. The video came from Milan and I’m assuming he sent it to his entire list of people with whom he had ever texted.

I quickly responded to him. Here’s the text exchange:

Oh Milan! Sorry to hear but what a beautiful video. Must have given you a lift. Take care of yourself and get well soon. Bill Black

Yes it did Thx

You ok? ….considering….

Time will tell : Two weeks in the hospital the virus is all over my lungs

I need to be on the highest oxygen levels

If no improvement 3-4 days : I’m going to be asked to check into another hospital another protocol

I’m praying for you. Let me know when you’ve recovered.

In reality, I didn’t pray for him. And, while I was shocked that he had the disease. I didn’t give it too much though as the days and weeks passed.

I met Milan years ago while I was still at the PR firm trying to build a practice that supported Chinese companies seeking investment opportunities in the U.S. There was a New York Times story about Chinese companies coming to Detroit to support the automotive industry. The story depicted Detroit as a Chinese inbound investment hot spot. So, after consulting with my boss, I cold-called the Detroit China Business Association that we mentioned in the article. I spoke to Milan and we decided to meet in Detroit.

A short time later, I went to Detroit, hooked up with a colleague from the local office there and set out to meet with Milan. His office was on the second floor of nondescript office building in the suburbs. I don’t remember much about the meeting, but I do remember that Milan was a very gregarious guy with a big personality. I learned later that the members of the DCBA were mostly real estate types trying to sell business and residential real estate to Chinese businesspeople. Milan fit that mold. He was always selling,

Typically, for just about all my China adventures, no money changed hands. But I stayed in touch with Milan. He invited me to his annual golf tournament. I never got back to Detroit, but he came to DC a few times and we got together. I believe his last scheme had something to do with electric buses. He got me into a Chinese New Year reception at the Department of Transportation.

Last week, while search for a particular text on my phone, I came across our text exchange and wondered how he was doing. Here’s how that went:

How are you doing?

Hi Bill, this is Chanel Stevanovich, Milan’s daughter. Unfortunately, Milan passed away on the 17th from Covid

Oh no. I am so so sorry. He was such a vivacious person. So, full of life and optimism. I’m crushed. I worked with him on some China projects. Loved being with him. He’s the only person I know who died due to the disease. You must be devastated. You have my deepest, deepest condolences.

Thank you

He’s the only person I know who has died from COVID. I don’t know what his overall health situation was, but he was certainly not old. Only 56 years old. And I can’t get it out of my mind. It drives home for me the fragility of life and how each day is precious.

Rest In Peace, Friend.

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