Mike Purzycki was born in Newark N.J. in 1945. He and his younger brother Joe grew up in a 15 story apartment building in the working class section of Vailsburg. His father was a car salesman and his mother a homemaker.

Mike graduated Seton Hall Prep in 1963 and earned a football scholarship to the University of Delaware, where he played four years and set every Blue Hen  receiving record. After graduating with a degree in history, Mike signed a contract with the New York football Giants for the 1967/1968 season when an injury sidelined him. Mike’s career in professional football didn’t last, but his love of Delaware did, and in 1968, he moved back and made Delaware his permanent home.

Mike began working in real estate sales and development and attended the Delaware Law School at night while working full-time during the day. After graduating law school, Mike was admitted to the Delaware bar and served as attorney for the Delaware State Senate where he made relationships that last to this day. He practiced law for over a decade concentrating in Real Estate and Commercial Transactions. Mike first ran for public office in 1982 and was elected to New Castle County Council where he served for 9 years as Chairman of the County’s Finance Committee and wrote the legislation that created the state’s first ethics law.


In 1996, Mike was tapped to head the Riverfront Development Corporation, and  tasked with the challenging job of resurrecting the blighted, industrial wasteland that sat fallow, contaminated and unused since the end of World War II. Mike and his team did what many thought was impossible: they reinvented and reinvigorated the area, turning it into the economic, cultural and social hub of the city.

Today, 1,400 people live on the Riverfront and close to 7,000 come daily to work there. The two million square feet of development includes many firsts for the First State like the first IMAX theater; the first Children’s Museum; an outdoor public ice skating rink; the Urban Wildlife Refuge and Environmental Education Center, not to mention restaurants, office buildings and retail shops. Every state dollar invested with Mike and his team has been returned, and every city dollar has been returned three times over. Through the success of the Riverfront, $32M is returned to public agencies annually, and seven million to the city.

Mike was recently the Chairman of the Wilmington Hope Commission. He oversaw the 2014 opening of the Achievement Center, a groundbreaking program that helps formerly incarcerated men successfully transition from prison back into the community.

Mike has also served as the President of the William E. Frank Foundation, the sponsor of the Gridiron Dinner and Show and the benefactor of nearly one million dollars in scholarships and grants. He has also served on the Boards of the Wilmington Urban League and the Wilmington Housing Partnership.

Mike married the former Bette Richitelli in 1984. They live in the Highlands with fourteen year old Gage while their adult children Adriane and Mick and his wife Ally live in New York City