Business leader, Statesman & Philanthropist
The Max M. Fisher Story
Throughout his life, Max M. Fisher served as a model for those committed to making a positive difference in the world around them. He was an extraordinary businessman grounded in his commitment to family and community.
Born in Pittsburgh in 1908 to Russian immigrants, Max attended Ohio State on a football scholarship. After graduating with a degree in business administration in 1930, he joined his father’s oil reclamation business in Detroit. Through hard work, instinct, and his legendary business communications skills, he grew the business into one of the largest gas station chains in the Midwest. His subsequent stock market and real estate investments made him one of the nation’s most successful business professionals. Beyond that, Max’s values and deep dedication to the worldwide community made him a recognized leader in service and philanthropy.
Max sat on the boards of Comerica, a consumer and investment bank, and Sotheby’s. He was awarded 13 honorary degrees and nearly 50 awards from organizations such as the Jewish Welfare Federation and the United Way of America. He was the subject of articles, TV documentaries, and a biography by Peter Golden entitled Quiet Diplomat. His skill at diplomacy kept him connected to every presidential administration since Eisenhower’s. He advised U.S. presidents and Israeli prime ministers and played a remarkable role in the history of both countries.
In 1993, Max’s desire to see Ohio State’s business college transformed into one of the premier institutions in the country resulted in a $20 million gift that spearheaded the building of what is now a highly competitive, top-ranked business school. In recognition of his generous commitment, the college was named the Max M. Fisher College of Business.
Together with Marjorie, his wife of 52 years, Max cultivated a legacy of philanthropy that impacted countless causes and organizations locally, nationally and around the world through the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Family Foundation. Upon Max’s death in 2005, Marjorie worked tirelessly to continue the tremendous work of the Fisher Family Foundation—at the college and beyond—until her death in 2016.
In 2014, a gift created the Max M. Fisher Scholars and the Fisher Faculty Eminence Award, further demonstrating the family’s continuing belief in the transformational power of education at The Ohio State University.
Max once described his alma mater as a place that provided him with opportunities to take risks, shape his own future, and develop a base to make lasting and meaningful impacts on the world. He and Marjorie's remarkable example and vision continue to guide Fisher College of Business today.