Tom Stephens, the teacher, talks turkey

Amid the hoopla and well-deserved congratulations meted out Tuesday during the Chevy Volt launch celebration in Detroit, GM product chief Tom Stephens showed a personal side that we in the media rarely get to see.

Still beaming an hour after line workers had returned to the business of building the plug-in hybrids, Stephens politely answered question after question about the Volt, its genesis, vehicle electrification and anything else on people's minds. No relevant questions left to ask, the conversation turned to the subject of how Stephens, a 40-year veteran of GM, had spent his Thanksgiving.

That's when Tom Stephens, the teacher, stepped forward. Since we asked, he said he had cooked a 21-pound turkey and 10-pound turkey breast to feed 28 members of his extended family.

He's been hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas for the family for years.

See, though, that wasn't his choice initially. Momma Stephens, before she died, called Tom over one Thanksgiving to share her closely held secrets on bird and dinner preparation.

It didn't take Tom long to realize that this meeting wasn't about food. What she truly was doing was designating Tom to host holidays and be the center of the family once she was gone.

It was a family succession plan, Stephens said.

It was a life lesson that Tom's mom had imparted to him and one that he has now imparted to a couple of very fortunate reporters who heard the story.

My guess is that Stephens has meted out a lot of good advice over the years. His role in GM's current vehicle lineup is exhibit A.