DETROIT – Manuel “Matty” Moroun, a billionaire businessman who owned a critical bridge that connects Michigan to Canada, has died in his suburban Detroit home. He was 93.
Moroun died of congestive heart failure Sunday in Grosse Pointe Shores.
Employees of the various Moroun companies were told Monday of his death in a message from Moroun’s son, Matthew.
“My dad loved his family and that extended to his work family,” Matthew Moroun wrote. “He poured his heart into his work and for over seven decades spent his time leading and protecting us. As a great mentor to many, my father was so proud of the companies that he leaves behind and all the innovation that is yet to come.”
Moroun attended the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and majored in chemistry and biology at the University of Notre Dame, according to The Detroit News.
“Born of immigrant parents in Detroit, he rose from a young man working at a neighbourhood gas station to graduating from the University of Notre Dame and creating a billion-dollar company,” said Sandy Baruah, chief executive of the Detroit Regional Chamber.
Moroun bought the Ambassador Bridge – a main trade corridor – in 1979, according to the Detroit Historical Society. The span connects Detroit to Windsor, Ontario.
He opposed plans by Michigan and Canada to build a publicly owned commuter bridge across the Detroit River. The Gordie Howe International Bridge is expected to open in 2024.
The family also owns and operates Central Transport International, a trucking and logistics company, and Crown Enterprises.
Forbes estimates Moroun’s net worth at $1.6 billion.
The Moroun family once owned the massive and vacant Michigan Central train station, which came to symbolize Detroit’s blight as it stood blank, dark and deteriorating just outside the city’s downtown for decades. The family sold the building in 2018 to Ford Motor Co.
“For me to own land in Detroit, it was a badge of honour, and it was support for the city,” Moroun told the Detroit Free Press in 2010. “Our fortunes are linked to the city. If the city doesn’t have any prosperity, we don’t have any value in the land, right?”