BLOG: York was passionate and energized, and then he was gone

Seven days ago, Jerry York sat across from two of us at lunch and was plotting his next move.

He had just bought 2,000 shares of Toyota -- 'they'll be back,' he said, 'at least I bet they will be.'

He was betting on a better General Motors.

He was impressed with the progress at Ford.

He was afraid about what he was seeing at Chrysler.

"It looks like a mess," he told me and my colleague, Dave Guilford.

It was the first time I had met Jerry York. What an impression.

He had 55 minutes for lunch, he told us, as we sat at his usual table -- the corner spot at a Birmingham, Mich., fish restaurant inside a hotel. He ate his usual entree: hamburger, but didn't eat the bun.

He wore his West Point military academy shirt. He smoked. He asked a lot of questions.

"What's the deal with (GM Chairman and CEO Ed) Whitacre?" he asked.

"What's going to happen with the unions in Europe?"

Mostly, though, he plotted.

He talked about plans for Kirk Kerkorian next year. ("He'll get involved in a car company again.") He talked about being on the board of Apple ("The iPad is going to change things the way the iPod did.") He talked about former Chrysler executive Jim Press buying a condo in New York.

"Even I could afford that, but why would I buy one?" he said.

And he talked about the industry losing legend Bob Lutz, one of the few inside GM who supported York during his eight months as a GM director.

Jerry York had an energy and a fire Dave and I agreed would be impressive at 50, with all the passion of a guy who loved to be engaged.

After the burger and a final cigarette, he gathered a paper with hastily scribbled notes and headed for the door.

"It was a pleasure meeting you," he said. "Let's do this again."

And with that, he was gone.