Max Fisher

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Max Fisher
Born Max Martin Fisher
July 15, 1908
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Died March 3, 2005
Franklin, Michigan
Cause of death
Natural causes
Nationality  United States
Ethnicity Jewish
Occupation Businessman
Spouse(s) Sylvia Krell
(m. 1934, d. Jun-1952)
Marjorie Switow (m. 1953)
Children with Krell:
--Jane Fisher Sherman
with Switow:
--Julie Fisher Cummings
--Marjorie Fisher Aronow
Adopted children of Switow:
--Phillip William Fisher
--Mary Davis Fisher
Parents Velvil Fisch (F)
Malka Brody (M)
Website
maxmfisher.org

Max Martin Fisher (July 15, 1908 – March 3, 2005) was an American businessman and philanthropist. He was a benefactor/alumnus of the Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University. He spent much of his life raising money for philanthropic and political endeavors and was a supporter of charitable and civic organizations. His skill at diplomacy kept him connected to every administration since President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s on Middle East and Jewish issues.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Fisher was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Russian Jewish immigrant parents and grew up in Salem, Ohio, where his father owned a clothing store. He attended The Ohio State University on a football scholarship and graduated with a degree in business administration in 1930. While a student at OSU, he was initiated into the Alpha Epsilon chapter of the Phi Beta Delta Fraternity, which is now part of the Pi Lambda Phi Fraternity.[2] In 1933, Fisher joined his father's oil reclamation business in Detroit as a $15-a-week salesman before forming his own company.[1] He grew the business into one of the largest gas station chains in the Midwest before selling the business in 1959 to Aurora Gasoline, a company Fisher would chair for 27 years. He was known for his personal Latin mantra: "Sic Trans Gloria."

Following the sale of Aurora to Marathon Oil for $40 million,[3] Fisher invested his fortune in real estate after retiring from business in 1963 where he sat on the board of Comerica, the consumer and investment bank, and Sotheby's, in addition to serving as the Honorary Chairman of United Jewish Communities (UJC), Council of Jewish Federations, and the American Jewish Committee.[1] Fisher supported Jewish and general causes worldwide and played a major role in almost every major Jewish communal organization. He was also the subject of articles, debates, TV documentaries, and a biography, entitled “Quiet Diplomat” by Peter Golden.[4]

For decades Fisher also served as a trusted advisor to U.S. presidents and Israeli prime ministers, rallying for causes from the Six-Day War to Ethiopian Jewry. By quietly forging new ties between Washington and Jerusalem, Fisher pioneered a new era in American Jewish activism and politics and was considered the elder statesman of North American Jewry.

Philanthropic activities[edit]

In Detroit, Fisher backed the $60 million Max. M. Fisher Music Center, which serves as the home for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and includes a public high school for the performing arts center called The Max.[5] In 1977, he joined with Taubman and Henry Ford II to buy the 73,000-acre (300 km2) Irvine Ranch south of Los Angeles for $337 million; Fisher's group would sell the property six years later for an estimated $1 billion.[3][dead link]

He also leveraged around $20 million to finance The Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business for development of a new six-building business campus that opened in 1998. An additional pledge of $5 million was given to the Fisher College of Business in February 2005 to support Master of Business Administration programs.

Fisher served as national chairman of UJC's predecessor organizations, the United Jewish Appeal (UJA) from 1965–1967; president of the Council of Jewish Federations from 1969–1972; and chairman of the United Israel Appeal, Inc. (UIA) from 1968–1971; and president of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit from 1959-1964.

In addition to being honorary chair of UJC, he was founding chairman of the board of governors of UJC's overseas partner, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI). He was also active in the American Jewish Committee, B'nai B'rith International, and Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.

Personal[edit]

Fisher was married twice:[6][7]

In 1934, he married Sylvia Krell who died in 1952. They had one child:

In 1953, he married Marjorie Faith Switow. They had two children together:

Marjorie also had two children from her prior husband, George Allen Frehling, who Fisher adopted:

  • Mary Fisher - AIDS activist[6][7]
  • Philip William Fisher[6][7] - In 2009, he founded the charity Mission Throttle whose purpose is "to develop business tools and to brainstorm ways of creating systematic and positive change to speed the pace of assistance to underserved populations."[9]

Fisher has 15 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

He died about 11:30am in his home in Franklin, Michigan surrounded by family.[10]

Fisher was also the uncle of Stephen M. Ross, a billionaire New York developer and benefactor of the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.

Wealth[edit]

In 2004, Max Fisher had amassed a net worth of $775 million. At 96, he was the oldest member of the Forbes 400.[11]

Other Acknowledgments[edit]

In March 2006, a male chapter of BBYO was founded by 12 young men from the state of Michigan with the name of Max Fisher AZA (AZA standing for Aleph Zadik Aleph, the male sector of the organization). Following the foundation, the chapter was officially recognized by the Fisher Foundation in early April. The chapter's charter number is #337. Since Fisher's charter in 2006, the chapter has flourished at the chapter, regional, and international level. Three times has a member from Fisher AZA served as the President for all of Michigan Region BBYO; even though the chapter has only been around for 7 years, an International President has already hailed from Fisher. Fishermen always set the standard for how to behave in BBYO; in fact, they have won the Sportsmanship award at Michigan Region's Regional Convention every year since its founding. Each year several members represent Michigan Region by attending BBYO's International Convention in February, and by attending countless summer programs around the globe each summer, many of which focus on building leadership skills. The current members of Fisher AZA recently passed a motion to have board members serve 6 month terms. This change enables more members the opportunity to serve leadership positions within the chapter and also ensures that the board is working to its fullest potential and upholding the Fisher Standard of Excellence. Fisher has won several awards, including the Henry Monsky award which recognizes the most outstanding chapters across the International Order. On a more local level, each year several Fishermen apply for individual awards including the Bronze and Silver Stars of David (recognizing outstanding participation) and the Tree of Life Award (recognizes those individuals who bring more members into the order via recruiting). Additional awards are available for those who excel in community service as well. Recently, Fisher has received publicity for starting a Platform Database which hosts several hundred platforms of individuals' candidacy for office from around the world. The platforms range from the chapter level, to the regional and international levels as well. Fisher continues to set extremely high standards for themselves and encourages other chapters around the world to strive for excellence. For more information on Fisher, visit their website http://www.fisheraza.moonfruit.com.

References[edit]

External links[edit]