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DETROIT-Heinz Prechter, a German immigrant who settled in Detroit to manufacture and market automobile sunroofs, fund major Republican Party candidates and lead Downriver development, was found dead in a guest house near his home Friday. He was 59.

The cause of death was ruled suicide, according to reports. He reportedly was suffering from severe depression.

Prechter built an empire of companies, including ASC Inc., his sunroof firm; Heritage Newspapers, a large chain of publications ranging from Downriver to Flint; and real estate development companies. He also helped many high-profile candidates, such as President George W. Bush and his father, into the White House.

One of his most recent endeavors through Heritage Development was to make a bid to build the Pinnacle Aeropark, a large 1,200-acre mixed-use development next to the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, in 1998. Wayne County, which owns the land, instead decided to oversee the project.

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