For those who don’t know, Max Fisher is probably one of the key reasons that even in years when Republicans received few Jewish votes, they were attentive to the Jewish community and to Israel’s needs. He was very prominent in Republican circles, a generous benefactor and fairly well liked and respected.
He passes away at 96 having been a success in many endeavors.
The NY Times tells us:
Mr. Fisher headed several Jewish-American organizations including the United Jewish Appeal, the Council of Jewish Federations and the American Jewish Committee.
He also founded the National Jewish Coalition, an organization of Jewish Republicans, and was one of the top donors to the Foundation for Florida’s Future, created in 1995 by Gov. Jeb Bush to promote conservative ideas.
But Mr. Fisher’s activities extended far beyond Jewish and Republican causes. He was committed to the city of Detroit, working to rebuild the urban core and mend race relations in the wake of the 1967 riots. That work earned him admirers across party lines. He helped found Detroit Renaissance, a nonprofit business group that sought to improve conditions in the city and region, and New Detroit, an organization that works to improve public education and race relations in the region.
Mr. Fisher was a major benefactor of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra’s new home, dedicated in October 2003, is called the Max M. Fisher Music Center, or, more simply the Max.
His name is also on the business school at Ohio State, to which he contributed $20 million.
He was born in 1908 to Russian Jewish parents here in the U.S., grew up in Ohio and attended Ohio University on a football scholarship. His father was in the oil reclamation business and eventually Max opened a gas station. Then another. Then another. Eventually he controlled one of the largest U.S. companies in the business. He is estimated to have been worth around $800 million before his death. Along with his football ability, business insticts, political acumen, generosity and philanthropy, dedication to the Jewish community and to its larger institutions, and to his home towns, Max was apparently also counsel to presidents about politics.
In “Quiet Diplomat: A Biography of Max M. Fisher” (Cornwall Books, 1992), Peter Golden described how President Gerald R. Ford and his secretary of state, Henry A. Kissinger, asked Mr. Fisher in 1975 to help heal a diplomatic rift between the United States and Israel over relations with Egypt.
“My fundamental responsibility was as an American,” the book quoted Mr. Fisher as saying. “Then as an American Jewish leader. And finally, I had my love for Israel.”