Photo by Rosh Sillars
By S. Voyles
When telling the story of Manuel “Matty” Moroun, it’s nearly impossible not to tell a story about Detroit and some of its history. And like Detroit, Moroun might be a little old-fashioned, but certainly never dull.
Corp! was invited to interview Moroun, owner of the Ambassador Bridge, in early May to hear his personal story, take some photos and learn about a man who rarely speaks to the press. While he’s viewed as an adversary by some and an example of the American dream come true by others, in reality Moroun’s early years were not unlike those of many growing up in Detroit in the 1920s and ‘30s.
|A Detroit-Windsor landmark (and one of the busiest crossings between Canada and the U.S.), the Ambassador Bridge is also one of the only privately owned international border points.
“My grandfather came from Lebanon and my dad was born in Buenos Aires,” says Moroun, sitting in a wood-paneled conference room at his spacious company headquarters in Warren, Mich. “My mom was also from Lebanon, but we think she was born in Cuba. The U.S. was always the magnet and that’s why they wanted to get here.”
His parents, Tufick (who went by Thomas) and Jamal, were married in Detroit where Matty was born, on June 5, 1927.
Growing up on Detroit’s east side with his three sisters and parents, Moroun attended Our Lady of Help elementary school, graduating from University of Detroit Jesuit High School and continuing his education at University of Notre Dame, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in chemistry in 1949.
“I wanted to be a doctor, so I was a pre-med student,” says Mouron, who today lives in Grosse Pointe Shores. “I had an uncle—my dad’s brother—who was a doctor and the family looked up to him and rightly so.”
Still intent on a medical career after graduating from Notre Dame, Moroun attended University of Michigan. He tried to gain admittance to the medical school, but was unsuccessful. That’s not to say, however, that Moroun wasn’t getting a leg up on a career.