YPSILANTI -- Bruce T. Halle, the founder and chairman of the nationwide retailer Discount Tire, died January 4, 2018, at the age of 87. Halle, a 1956 graduate of Eastern with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, founded the company in 1960. His first store was in Ann Arbor and he started with an inventory of six tires. Today, Discount Tire has grown to be the largest independent tire dealer in North America, with more than 900 locations in 29 states and employing 18,000 people.
Halle has been one of Eastern Michigan University’s most prominent and successful alumni. He first enrolled at the University in 1948 and then enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps at the start of the Korean War. After his tour of duty, he returned to Eastern in 1953, graduating three years later.
Philanthropy has been a major focus of Halle and his wife, Diane, over the years. In 2002, they founded the Diane and Bruce Halle Foundation to extend their sense of caring to the larger community. The Halle Foundation now serves as a leader in promoting new ways to collaborate on issues of social justice. At Eastern, the Bruce T. Halle Endowment Fund supports many initiatives on campus, including:
In a past interview reflecting on his support for the University, Halle said, "The University gave me a lot. I received a wonderful education and a wonderful lifetime experience. I have fond memories of the University, and once I was able to, I wanted to do something for the school. Part of the money was to go toward [endowing] a new library, as that was a need for the University."
Eastern Michigan University President James Smith said, “I am deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Bruce Halle. My thoughts are with his wife, Diane, their children, other family members, their friends and co-workers. Bruce touched many, many lives in the business world, and through his support of the University and its students, continues to touch many lives on our campus today.
“In many ways, Bruce represents the Eastern Michigan University experience shared by many – starting with little funds, little support, but a lot of hard work and determination. We are extremely thankful for what he has meant to our University. The legacy he leaves behind is one that will support our institution and our students for decades to come.”
In 2015, Halle was honored with the Horatio Alger Award. Conferred annually to 10 to 12 people, the Award symbolizes the values of personal initiative and perseverance, leadership and commitment to excellence, belief in the free-enterprise system and the importance of higher education, community service, and the vision and determination to achieve a better future. In this video upon accepting the honor, Halle describes his early years.