BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Staff Writer
Longtime auto executive Lee Iacocca passed away July 2 at the age of 94 from Parkinson’s disease, and his life and death had a profound impact on Independence Township Supervisor Pat Kittle.
“I got to know family very well during seven-plus years of working for them during some very tumultuous times in the auto industry,” said Kittle, who has been the supervisor the past seven years. “Mr. I had two passions – his family and saving Chrysler. He adored his wife Mary (who died in 1983 from Type 1 diabetes) and two beautiful daughters Kathy and Lia. Mr. I surrounded himself with the best and the brightest in the car business and was not afraid to make the tough decisions based on their input.
“In my opinion, Chrysler would not have made it if it were not for the leadership, passion and guts of Lee A. Iacocca.”
Iacocca’s funeral was July 10 and he is buried at St. Hugo of the Hills in Bloomfield Hills.
Kittle interviewed with the family upon Iacocca joining Chrysler in September 1978 and started working at the family residence two months later where he was responsible for the security of the residence and the safety of the family.
Iacocca, who lived in Bel Air, Calif., in his later years and was married two more times after Mary’s passing, is perhaps best known for the development of Ford Mustang and Pinto cars. He served as president and CEO of Chrysler from 1978, and as chairman from 1979, until his retirement in 1992. He was one of the only executives ever to oversee the operations of two of the Big Three automakers.
“Every day, I am thankful for the impact Mr. I had on the auto industry in general and Chrysler specifically,” said Kittle. “I spent 32 years of my life (1977-2008) working for a great car company and was able to put my kids through college and live the American dream.
“God Bless Mr. I and his wife Mary. Great people. Good friends. Pray for them every day.”