Born to a family of Polish immigrants in Syracuse, New York, Joseph Dresner grew up learning the importance of hard work and perseverance. After graduating from Central High School in Detroit, Joe pursued a degree in accounting from the University of Michigan – an accomplishment he was extremely proud of. While in college, Joseph worked as a short order cook at the Brown Jug in Ann Arbor, and that is where he met his future wife, Vera Chad.
Vera was born in Detroit, Michigan to Nellie and Louis Chad, Russian immigrants who met and married in the United States. Vera grew up living in the city with her brother and two sisters. After graduating from Central High School in Detroit, Vera attended college at Wayne State University.
While still in school, Joe joined the United States Army where he saw heavy combat in France during World War II. In 1948, three years after being discharged from the Army, Joe and Vera were married. He finished his degree after he completed his military service.
Joe started his career as an accountant, but soon joined forces with his father and brother to start Highland Construction. Anyone who worked with Mr. Dresner would tell you that he intuitively knew what to build, how to build it, where to build it, and how to price it. He had a firm grasp on the world that he was in, which allowed him to build an impressive fortune with ease and elegance.
Vera excelled in her career as a mother of two and she strived to be the world’s best mom. In her spare time, she worked as a volunteer for a variety of organizations and enjoyed giving back to those in her community. It was not uncommon for Vera to offer those who didn’t have anywhere to go for major Jewish holidays to join the Dresners at their table.
The Dresners lived in Detroit, Michigan until 1954. They then moved into a house that Joe built in Huntington Woods, MI where they raised their family. In 1970, the Dresners made Franklin, MI their home.
In 2000, Joe Dresner was diagnosed with Myelodysplasia, a blood disorder. During his long struggle with this disease, he gained an appreciation for the need to assist physicians and those who are suffering. With the assistance of his colleagues and family members, he began to create the Vera and Joseph Dresner Foundation that would ensure powerful philanthropy for years to come.
Joseph Dresner died in 2012 at the age of 87, but both his and Vera’s legacy live on through the philanthropic efforts made by the foundation.