RICHARD F. MAZUR
For a guy who can donate a million dollars to U of M without a blink, Dick Mazur comes off as a pretty humble guy.
At least, he seems to be a realist—and that’s a personality trait that we’ve come to associate with Polish Americans. The work ethic and willingness to sacrifice personal gain for the good of their kids, displayed by his grandparents and parents, was the driving force that sent him through U of M in the 1950’s, and now, he’s proud to give back. The desire—not necessarily an ‘obligation’—to share the fruits of his own hard work, is also a Polish personality ‘cornerstone’.
Though born on Detroit’s east side, Mazur spoke only Polish until the age of five, and when his parents tried to mainstream him into American public school, he couldn’t communicate. So it was parochial school for the first few years, where he honed speaking and writing skills with the help of librarians, to whom he read on a daily basis. That, and his success at Cass Technical High School, and then at U of M, taught him absolutely the value of education. It’s a life philosophy that he’s passed on to his four children, all of whom are graduates of top US universities like Brown and Villanova. “You bet I’m a proud father,” he grins. “My kids fulfilled my dreams. Not the way I had to do it—working in factories to put myself through school.”
Mazur’s business success is no doubt the result of a shrewd business sense—at one time he owned banks and insurance companies along with more than sixty franchises, including forty McDonald’s and 18 Ponderosas (in the last ninety days, he says, he’s picked up three new companies. But probably at the core of his empire is a very simple, very humble notion: hard work, respect for others, and determination.
These are philosophies that he’d no doubt mastered his Polish American parents and Polish immigrant grandparents a long time before college.