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Gene Timmer, Owner of Popular Dutch Girl Donuts in Detroit, Dies at 75

The doughnut shop that’s made its home on Woodward since 1947 remains closed

The exterior of Dutch Girl Donuts, which is on the corner of two streets. OPEN and DONUTS signs appear in the window.
Dutch Girl Donuts opened on Woodward in 1947
Gerard + Belevender

Gene Timmer, owner of Detroit institution Dutch Girl Donuts, died Friday at Ascension Providence Hospital in Novi, surrounded by his family. He was 75.

Mr. Timmer had quietly battled cancer for the last 1 1/2 years. For the last six weeks, as his condition worsened and Mr. Timmer was hospitalized, his daughter Johanna Parrow told The Detroit News. “His battle with cancer was so quiet that, the week of his death, his wife, Lauren Timmer, said: “You never told me you were this sick.”

Keeping his illness a secret “shows a reflection and an amazing description of his character,” his daughter Hanna Timmer Parrow told the Free Press. “He was the shirt-off-his-back kind of guy. He put everyone first, his family, the doughnut shop.”

Dutch Girl Donuts was founded by Timmer’s parents, John and Cecelia Timmer, in 1947. He was 6 months old, Timmer Parrow said, when the family moved to Detroit to take over the doughnut shop, a former Dixie Cream Donut franchise. The family renamed the shop on Woodward south of 7 Mile as Dutch Girl Donuts. Timmer retired about a decade ago and Jon Timmer, his son, makes the old-school doughnuts inside the shop, which often has lines waiting outside the front door.

A few weeks ago, the family said the doughnut shop would temporarily close and pause operations because of staffing issues and family health issues. The doughnut shop remains closed.

Before the onset of the pandemic in Michigan, Dutch Girl Donuts operated 24 hours a day, six days a week.

Dutch Girl Donuts

19000 Woodward Avenue, , MI 48203 (313) 368-3020 Visit Website