In 2017, we said goodbye to …

Here are some of the industry notables who died in 2017. 

Arjay Miller, Ford

Miller was a member of the Whiz Kids, a group of 10 young men who famously persuaded Henry Ford II to hire them en masse in the late 1940s from Harvard, where they had mastered statistical analysis for the U.S. military during World War II.

The group stewarded Ford back to profitability after the war, eventually allowing Ford to become a publicly held company, in 1956. The cost controls they put in place were a radical change for the famously mismanaged automaker. “It was unbelievable,” Miller recalled of his first months at Ford in a 2003 interview with Automotive News. “During World War II they lost money on cost-plus contracts. Now that takes some skill, to lose money on a cost-plus contract.”

Miller became a close confidant of Ford II and rose to become the automaker’s seventh president, in 1963. Ford, buoyed by new models such as the Mustang and Maverick, strict cost oversight and a growing global footprint, posted record revenue and earnings during his time as president. In 1968, Ford II abruptly named a new president: Bunkie Knudsen, who had just been passed over for the president’s post at General Motors. Miller became vice chairman. He left Ford’s management ranks a year later but stayed on the company’s board until 1986. He was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 2006. He died Nov. 3 at 101.

James Crellin, General Motors

Crellin joined GM in 1970 in the corporate news division after a stint as a labor writer for The Detroit News. He was the leading liaison between executives and the press. Crellin became the director of corporate communications in 1995 and retired that year. He died Nov. 4 at 81.


Jay Amestoy, Mazda

Jay Amestoy spent more than two decades at the public relations helm at Mazda North American Operations, becoming the longest-serving officer there before retiring in 2012. He previously worked in public relations for Volkswagen Group of America. In 2008, Automotive News named him an All-Star after more than 4,700 new Mazda cars were damaged on a ship that almost capsized near Alaska. Mazda turned a potential public relations disaster into victory by scrapping the vehicles and recycling the parts instead of trying to sell some of the vehicles as used. Amestoy, 69, died Nov. 16 of complications following a long illness.


Peter Schutz, Porsche

Porsche was in a tailspin in 1981 when Ferry Porsche named Schutz, an American, CEO of the company. Porsche had posted its first net loss a year earlier, and sales of the iconic rear-engine 911 were dropping sharply. Executives had pegged the 911 to be discontinued so that Porsche could focus on its more contemporary front-engine models, the 944 and 928. Schutz, whose family fled Nazi Germany for Cuba when he was 8 and moved to the U.S. when he was 10, was a lifelong car buff and engineer by trade. He made the landmark decision to keep the 911. Schutz died Oct. 29 at 87.

Lunn Photo credit: FORD

Roy Lunn, Ford, American Motors

Lunn, as chief engineer for the Jeep Cherokee XJ, created a groundbreaking design for the SUV: a steel ladder frame welded to a unitized body. The Cherokee was a monster hit for AMC and later Chrysler. It also became the template for the modern SUV, and its basic body design continues to be copied by virtually all major global automakers. The Richmond, England, native worked for AC Cars, Aston Martin and Ford Motor Co., among others, before AMC came calling in 1971 and offered him the post of technical director for Jeep. Lunn died Aug. 5 at 92, following a stroke.


Bob Mallon, NADA

Mallon founded the National Automobile Dealers Charitable Foundation in 1975 — before becoming National Automobile Dealers Association president in 1978 — and was the foundation’s only chairman until 2016, when he became chairman emeritus.

With the support of the foundation’s board of trustees, Mallon spearheaded several programs, funds, grants and scholarships, including the Ambassadors Program, which collects donations that benefit local communities; the Emergency Relief Fund to help dealership employees recover after disasters; and the Survivors Relief Fund, which distributed scholarships to children of victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The former Ford dealer from Tacoma, Wash., died Aug. 3 at 83.

Bob White, Canadian Auto Workers

White became the first president of the Canadian Auto Workers after he and his lieutenants, Buzz Hargrove and Bob Nickerson, broke away from the UAW in 1985. In 2013, the CAW merged with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada to form Unifor. White died Feb. 20 at 81.

Alan Peckolick, Lubalin Peckolick Associates

Alan Peckolick was a graphic artist who developed typography for the modern General Motors logo and the Mercedes-Benz brand, as well as a number of nonautomotive companies. He died Aug. 3 at 76, after being injured in a fall.


Mandy Ourisman, Ourisman Automotive Group

Ourisman’s father, Benjamin, started Ourisman Chevrolet in 1921 in Washington, D.C. Mandy Ourisman went to work for his father in 1947.

With the help of his sons and grandsons, he built Ourisman into what is now: a fourth-generation family business with more than 36 franchises in Virginia and Maryland. He died July 5 at 90.

Gordon Whitby, British Motor, Nissan

Whitby spent 16 years with British Motor Corp., where he was the U.S. technical adviser at the MG division. He moved to Nissan in 1967, where he eventually became the U.S. director for dealer support. He died May 7 at 88.


Vic Edelbrock Jr., Edelbrock Corp.

Edelbrock took over Edelbrock Corp., which started as an automotive repair shop in Beverly Hills, Calif., at 26 after his father died in 1962. Under his leadership, the company grew from 10 employees to one of the largest performance-parts entities in the world. He died June 9 at 80.

Paul Hartmann, VW dealer, import executive

Hartmann owned Park Volkswagen in Long Island, N.Y., from 1977 to 1982. He later worked in regional management positions for Worldwide Volkswagen/Porsche-Audi Eastern, Porsche Cars North America and Saab Cars USA. He died May 9 at 73.

Bill Carlin, Ford

Carlin, born in Chicago to a law family in partnership with Clarence Darrow, began his Ford career in sales. He rose to head of dealership operations, overseeing more than 2,000 stores nationally. He died Feb. 27 at 90.

Bill Baker, Ford, Land Rover

Baker, a broadcast newsman from Ohio, caught Ford’s attention in the early 1970s with his road test segments. Ford offered Baker a job on its broadcast media relations team.

He later worked for Volvo, Fiat-Lancia, Ferrari, Sony Corp. of America and Chrysler. He became one of the first American employees of Land Rover of North America, in 1986. Land Rover’s U.S. operations at the time were small. It was a new vehicle and new brand in the U.S., in a new segment: the luxury SUV. The brand drew big-time attention due to the off-road trips Baker organized, including jaunts to Morocco, Scotland, Iceland and Belize. He died Feb. 16 at 72.

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