The Associated Press reports Barden had a variety of business interests, including casinos, cable TV and real estate. Earlier this year, his wife went to court in a dispute over his ability to manage his assets. Barden grew up in Inkster, near Detroit. He dropped out of college in Ohio but stayed in Lorain, Ohio, working a series of jobs before opening a record shop at age 22. Barden started a weekly newspaper, bought real estate and became a member of the Lorain City Council.
Detroit Mayor Dave Bing issued the following statement: "Don was a stalwart leader and businessman in this community, as well as a friend. We were aware of his longtime illness, and dreaded this day. We send our condolences to his family."
Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano echoed Bing's statement:
Don Barden was not only a person who was a very successful businessman and entrepreneur, but mostly a person concerned about Detroit.
He stood as a role model and mentor for those who wanted to be successful in business through hard work and perseverance. He has made countless contributions to the quality of life in this area and will be remembered for his generosity.
Many times he would share keen, insightful advice on complex issues facing the county.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time.