FRIEDMAN, MAX R. (11 November 1918-24 September 1993) was a prominent civic leader, civil rights advocate, philanthropist, and co-founder of the Friedman Buick Co., one of the nation's most successful Buick dealerships.
Born in Allentown, PA, Max Friedman was brought to Cleveland as an infant by his parents, Sam and Rose (Klein). He had two brothers, Allen and Robert, and a sister, Ethel. He graduated from John Adams High School and attended Ohio State University. He worked at his father's produce business before joining the army during WORLD WAR II. In 1946, Max Friedman and his brothers opened State Auto Sales, a used car lot on Euclid Avenue. They soon expanded their successful business, acquiring three additional lots and opening a finance company. In 1957, the Friedman brothers acquired the Ralph Stewart Buick Co. at East 125th Street and St. Clair Avenue, founding the Friedman Buick Co. They doubled the number of new cars sold at the dealership in the first year of business. The brothers also launched the Friedman Auto Lease two years later, the state's largest auto-leasing company with branches in over 40 states. In 1967, their Buick dealership ranked 12th nationwide in sales. A new showroom opened in MAYFIELD HEIGHTS in 1970 and Max Friedman was named New Car Dealer of the Year three years later. He also served as president of the Independent Auto Dealers Association and the Buick Dealers Association.
Long active in Jewish community organizations, Max Friedman chaired the United Jewish Appeal's Cleveland campaign in 1969 and helped to raise millions for Israel as chairman of the Cleveland Committee for State of Israel Bonds in 1971. Since 1959, he served on the executive committee and the board of trustees of the JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER (JCC). Friedman was a trustee for life of the JEWISH COMMUNITY FEDERATION (JCF) and served as the organization's president from 1967 to 1970. In the 1980s, Gov. Richard F. Celeste of Ohio appointed Friedman to co-chair the Holocaust Education Council. He attended religious services at the Fairmount Temple (see ANSHE CHESED).
Friedman was active in Democratic Party politics, both locally and nationally, during his life. He helped to raise money for Democratic candidates, including Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and presidential candidate Walter Mondale of Minnesota. A devoted supporter of the civil rights movement, Friedman met the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and was a life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He was also a leading fundraiser for the United Way.
Friedman was married twice. He and his first wife, Sylvia Jacobs, were married on 27 November 1946. They divorced a year later. On 15 August 1954, Friedman married Jane Gilbert. They had three children together: Nancy, Steve, and Suzy. He lived in PEPPER PIKE and is buried in Mayfield Cemetery.