Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Fisher, Max M.

Max Martin Fisher, Detroit’s internationally known philanthropist and businessman was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 15, 1908 to Russian immigrants. He was raised in Salem, Ohio, his father a modest clothier. Fisher earned his degree in business administration in 1930 from Ohio State University which he attended on a football scholarship. Following his graduation, he joined his father’s oil reclamation business as a salesman.

Soon after, Fisher started his own company, Aurora Gasoline, in 1933, which became one of the largest independent gas station chains in the Midwest. He sold his corporation to Marathon Oil Company in 1959, after having held a chair on the board of directors for over 20 years. Retiring in 1963, Fisher sat on the board of a number of banks and businesses including Comerica Bank and Sotheby’s. Fisher was also chairman of several Jewish councils statewide and earned a name as the “quiet diplomat,” for his work advising U.S. presidents on Middle Eastern affairs. A book by that name, Quiet Diplomat: A Biography of Max M. Fisher, was published by Peter Golden in 1992.

His philanthropic and civic interests encompassed the city of Detroit. He helped create Detroit Renaissance and New Detroit, Inc., two organizations crucial to the revitalization of the metropolitan area. Max Fisher is responsible for kick starting an addition to Orchestra Hall, the home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, initially contributing $10 million for the Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center. "The Max," as it is known, expanded Orchestra Hall with space for education, additional performance venues and more.

Max M. Fisher passed away at age 96, on March 3, 2005, being the oldest member of Forbes 400, with a net worth of $775 million.



Max Fisher (seated center) at a political campaign rally, c.1990 – 2018.149.019

“Take Another Look at Detroit” Detroit Renaissance booklet, c.1972 – 2019.080.001

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