Michael H. “Mike” Mescon passed away peacefully Sunday, Nov. 12, 2017. He was 86.
Michael H. Mescon, whom The Wall Street Journal described as “the Pied Piper of Private Enterprise,” was first and foremost a family man. He married his teenage sweetheart, Enid, 65 years ago, immediately after they both graduated from the University of Miami. They originally met at a B’nai B’rith youth convention when they were both 12. Mike and Enid lived in the same house in Sandy Springs for almost 50 years.
Mike was the son of Florence and Abe Mescon and, though born in Toronto, Ontario, grew up in Charleston, S.C., and graduated from Miami Beach High School in Florida. He was predeceased by a brother, Lou; a sister, Helen; and his daughter, Nance. Mike and Enid have two sons, Tim (Lauren) in Amsterdam and Jed (Phyllis) in Chattanooga. They have seven grandchildren living across the United States, from California to Georgia.
After he graduated from the University of Miami and earned a master’s degree, Mike and Enid moved to New York City, where Mike completed his Ph.D. in human relations at New York University at age 23. In New York, Mike pursued his lifelong love of weightlifting under the famous Sig Klein in Manhattan, and Mike became a fitness fanatic before fitness became fashionable. Over the decades of his professional career, he would recommend gyms and fitness centers globally for road-weary travelers.
After graduation from NYU, Mike immediately enlisted in the U.S. Army and spent two years as a private first class at Fort Jackson, S.C. Mike maintained a close and proud link with the U.S. military for his entire life, including very active engagement with Veterans of the Vietnam War. Mike joined what was then the Georgia State College of Business Administration in 1956 and eventually became chair of the department of management and the world’s first holder of the Bernard B. and Eugenia Ramsey Chair of Private Enterprise (1963). He retired as the dean of the Robinson College of Business in 1990. Mike loved Georgia State, and, as an investment partner in the group that created Technology Park over 40 years ago, he gave his shares to Georgia State. Mike continued to teach a graduate course with Professor Harvey Newman in the Andrew Young School at Georgia State for many years.
One of Mike’s great stories involved the late Richard Rich, the chairman of Rich’s Department Stores. In the late 1950s, when Mike was a young assistant professor at Georgia State and was also working as a consultant for Rich’s, Dick Rich challenged Michael by asserting that he “knew nothing about business.” Mike conferred with Enid and immediately took a three-year leave from Georgia State and went to work full time for Rich’s, managing what was the Stewart Avenue Center. Mike claimed it was the single best professional experience of his career.
He received honorary degrees from The Citadel, where he held a chaired professorship, and the College of Charleston. Mike loved downtown Atlanta and for many years was active in the Y, the Commerce Club and the Atlanta Rotary and served in key leadership roles for many nonprofits, including the American Heart Association, Northside Hospital, the American Red Cross and many, many others.
Mike was a distinguished academic, book author and champion of private enterprise. His co-authored introduction-to-business text, “Business Today,” was the world’s top-selling text and was translated into many languages, including Russian. Mescon founded the Georgia Council on Economic Education and the Association of Private Enterprise Education (APEE). For 20 years, he was contributing editor and co-authored a monthly management column for Delta Air Lines’ Sky Magazine, and he was a regular columnist for years for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Some of the most popular articles were included in a book, “Showing Up for Work & Other Keys to Business Success,” for which he received the Georgia Author of the Year award from the Council of Authors and Journalists.
Mike was a global consultant and founded the Mescon Group in the late 1960s with colleagues Carl Bramlett and Don Jewell. The Mescon Group became one of the largest academically based organizational design and business process engineering firms in the United States, specializing in plant restructuring in the pulp and paper industry, and was eventually acquired in the early 2000s by Aprio. Mike was also a proud co-owner of Carson-Schoenfeld VW/Fiat/Porsche in Marietta, part of his lifelong love for cars.
Over the years, Mike served as a director for a number of publicly held corporations and served as a keynote speaker and consultant to companies across the globe. He was always in demand for corporate engagements and was an amazing speaker and thought leader, impacting many organizations around the world. To this day, so very many quote from Mike Mescon speeches, including “Show up, on time, dressed to play; you’ll never have to break a sweat.” He and Enid traveled to every continent and loved their time together and with family and friends. His greatest love was teaching young people at Georgia State University.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Michael Mescon Endowment Fund at Georgia State University, PO Box 2668, Atlanta, GA 30301, www.gsu.edu/giving. Sign the online guestbook at dresslerjewishfunerals.com. Graveside services will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15, at Arlington Memorial Park in Sandy Springs with Rabbi Peter Berg and Rabbi Alvin Sugarman officiating. Arrangements by Dressler’s Jewish Funeral Care, 770-451-4999.