But while the family doesn’t live in the past, neither does it live in quite the same present as most Ann Arborites. The Issas are very private about their personal lives, particularly about their women. I learned the names of the wives, sons, and daughters of the three brothers I interviewed, but Mohamad very politely declined to tell me his sisters’ names or the names of the wives, sons, and daughters of his other two brothers. When I asked to interview his mother, he once again very politely declined. The family’s success story includes women, but it is told by men.
It’s a measure of that success that when asked to suggest people to interview about them, the brothers named a banker, a judge, and the mayor.
“They’ve made tremendous contributions to the local economy,” says mayor John Hieftje, who’s played basketball with Mohamad at the Central Academy gym. “And they also care deeply about this community.”
“I’ve known them through business for twenty years,” says Charlie Crone, a VP at the Bank of Ann Arbor. “I have the highest regard for their family values, and their family values imbue their business values.”