Ed Deeb: Neal Shine Award for Exemplary Leadership

Published on September 8, 2010 - 5:24 pm

by SYLVIA RECTOR-FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

As a youngster in the 1940s, Ed Deeb learned
some valuable lessons while selling penny candy
and sorting bottles in his parents' Detroit
grocery stores.

"You'd meet all kinds of people there," said Deeb,
who grew up on Mack not far from Belle Isle.
"You learned how to deal with people. You
learned about their problems. ... You got to learn
all this ... and a little courage, too."

As head of the Michigan Food and Beverage
Association -- and recipient of the 2010 Neal
Shine Award for Exemplary Regional Leadership
-- Deeb has used those skills and insights to
build a career distinguished by helping others,
bridging gaps between groups and creating new
opportunities for young people and others in
need of a champion.

Among other achievements, he cofounded the
award-winning Metro Detroit Youth Day
program on Belle Isle; established its youth
scholarship program; set up metro Detroit's first
scouting program for handicapped children; set
in motion the revival and renovation of Detroit's
historic Eastern Market, and established the
region's largest awards program for women in
business.

"He does amazing things by getting people to
work with him ... for the greater good," said
Warren auto sales executive Mona Gualtieri, who
nominated him for the Shine leadership award.

Said Detroit Media Partnership CEO Susie
Ellwood: "What sets him apart is that he is

always thinking about and doing things that
make a difference in people's lives, especially
children."

Now 72, Deeb remains president and CEO of two
of the state's largest business associations, both
of which he founded -- the 3,200-member
Michigan Food and Beverage Association, and the
21,000-member Michigan Business &
Professional Association.

But he is "best known for being a peacemaker
and a problem solver" when tensions flared
between grocery-store owners and Detroit
residents, Gualtieri wrote.

During the 1967 riot in Detroit, when he was
president of the Associated Food Dealers trade
group, he received calls from 400 business
owners whose stores were damaged, looted or
destroyed. Afterward, he and New Detroit
President Walter Douglas formed a coalition of
their organizations "to try to solve any problems
that came up and deal with complaints. And we
got through it OK," Deeb said.

Later on, when problems occurred between
people in the community and store owners,
many of them Arabic or Chaldean, Deeb would
personally try to resolve them. If residents
picketed a store, he would go there and get the
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customers and owner to talk about the problem.
At the end, "They would shake hands and make
peace, and I would go back to the office. That
happened many times," he said.

Serious trouble hit in summer 1980, when
confrontations between young people and store
owners on Livernois resulted in the shooting
deaths of two youths and one grocer within two
weeks.

Then-Mayor Coleman Young got the city calmed
down, and Deeb calmed the grocers. That fall,
Young called a meeting and asked Deeb to find a
way to keep the situation from happening again
the next summer.

That was the beginning of Metro Detroit Youth
Day, which Deeb organized with the help of Tom
Fox of WJBK-TV (Channel 2) and the late Jerry
Blocker, a reporter with WWJ-AM (950) radio.
The first one attracted 1,100 young people for
games and lunch. This year, 37,000 young
people and 1,600 volunteers participated. It's
now the largest youth event in Michigan and
includes an ambitious scholarship program.

Deeb -- who received a presidential Point of
Light Award in 1991 as the event's founder -- is
still its driving force.

The Scouting for the Handicapped program,
which he founded with the late Nate Shapero of
Cunningham Drug stores, has also grown
dramatically.

It began in 1984 with 40 children and now serves
4,600 girls and boys in what's called the T
railblazer Unit. "It's quite a program," he said.

One of Deeb's favorite projects is Eastern
Market. He became involved with it in 1986,
when he helped business owners set up the
Eastern Market Merchants Association. In 2006,
he was one of three cofounders of the nonprofit
Eastern Market Corp., which is using foundation
funding to dramatically improve the buildings
and services. "It's a love of my life," he said.

Working through his Michigan Business &
Professional Association, he also created the
annual Women and Leadership in the Workplace
conference and awards, now in its 14th year.
About 600 businesswomen attend; seven are
honored each year for distinguished work in
areas ranging from small business to civic
affairs.

At some point, Deeb hopes to hand over the
associations' reins to his daughter, executive vice
president Jennifer Kluge, 39, and take a less
prominent role. His son, George Deeb, lives in
Chicago.

Deeb and his wife, Joanne, live by a lake in
Bloomfield Township, but he doesn't want to
retire and stay home.

"If I retire, I might be gone in a year. I feel young.
I feel active. I still want to help people and do
things to make our community a better place,"
he said.

Contact SYLVIA RECTOR: 313-222-5026 or
srector@freepress.com

 

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