Colleagues remember a man of patience, wit
Jack Teahen: The definition of a gentleman.
Reflections from some former colleagues:
Jack Teahen raised me from a pup. I came to Automotive News fresh out of college. I wouldn't have known a semicolon if it ran me over in the street. Teahen took me under his wing, starting me out doing the paper's personnel column. He taught me about working at an international automotive powerhouse, what news was and how to write sentences and craft stories that readers would actually want to read. He did this with patience and grace. He was a class act. I'll miss him terribly.
-- Wes Raynal, Autoweek Media Group editor
The definition of a gentleman
Although what brought us together was a common interest in the automotive industry, the memories I cherish most were Jack's acts of generosity, especially when I arrived in 1986 from the Chicago area. Jack offered whatever financial help I needed to move my family and acquire a home in the Detroit area. I politely declined the offer.
I was stunned by his generosity, considering I had been on the editorial staff for about four months. He just wanted to make the transition easier for my wife and small daughters, he said.
Jack and I worked together for over 25 years. We shared thousands of lunches and dinners. He liked Mexican food or a good hamburger washed down with a Coke. He hated vegetables. You learn a lot about the character of a man while sharing a meal. I never heard him swear. He never lost his temper. He never said anything derogatory about anyone.
Webster's dictionary defines a "gentleman" as a "polite, gracious or considerate man having high standards of propriety or correct behavior." That definition describes Jack Teahen.
I miss Jack.
-- Rick Kranz, former Automotive News product editor
Jack knew the answer
Jack scared me the first time I had a conversation with him. It was about 1989. We were working on a story together, and I told him what I'd learned about the Ford brand. He looked at me and in a gruff voice asked me what about Lincoln and Mercury? I just wasn't thinking about the company's other brands, but Jack set me straight!
I soon learned that Jack was kind, knowledgeable and quite patient. I was always amazed at how much he knew about the auto industry and how he remembered so many details. I once asked him about a topic, and he told me the month and date, which was like in the late 1950s, a story about that topic was published in Automotive News.
I remember him giving me a crash course on dealer holdbacks, and I'll never forget working with him to gather data for the annual dealership-census stories before the data center took over the task. He did everything by hand, and sometimes I couldn't read his writing. Whenever I had a question about the industry, I'd ask Jack because he knew the answer. When we talked he always stopped what he was doing, turned around in his chair and gave me his full attention. What a wonderful person and a great colleague.
-- Arlena Sawyers, Automotive News reporter
When I started at Automotive News back in 1966 one of my jobs as an apprentice was to run proofs up to Bob Lienert, who was managing editor, and Jack, who was assistant managing editor. Back then every day at lunch Bob and Jack played 1 or 2 games of cribbage and they kept a running tally of wins for the entire year. On the final business day one year, amazingly, the tally was even going into the final game. I don't remember who won, but I do know they were two of the finest people I've ever met in my life. It's comforting to know that Bob has his cribbage partner back.
-- Larry Williams, Automotive News production supervisor
Sales with a smile
When it came to sales data and historical perspective, Jack always was willing to set aside time to help me get it right. As a relatively cub reporter out of school during my Automotive News tenure, I asked for his help frequently! But despite his heavy work load, Jack never rolled an eye or sent me away no matter how basic my questions, and I appreciated that greatly. A modern man, too ... I always will treasure the photo I have of Jack and me at my Automotive News baby shower — what a trooper he was! I am honored to have worked alongside such an intelligent, sharp-minded reporter. His strong, lifelong work ethic is something I will admire always.
-- Gail Kachadourian Howe, former Automotive News reporter
A wicked sense of humor
In addition to being the incredibly talented Automotive News go-to numbers and analysis guy, Jack Teahen will be remembered for his wicked sense of humor and great one-liners. When he (and Automotive News) turned 75, we threw a rousing party for him at a local Mexican restaurant. We made decks of playing cards with his mug shot and even went so far as to create stick Jack Teahen masks for all the party-goers to wear when he arrived. He laughed so hard! Little did we know that he'd still work for Crain for 12 more years! RIP Jack. In heaven, the Detroit Lions win every Sunday.
-- Colleen Robar, former Automotive News marketing director
Write like Jack
Since joining Automotive News in 2000, it's been easy for me to remember the age of the publication and of Jack Teahen. Both turned 75 shortly after I landed in Detroit that summer. We celebrated the birthdays with a big party at a Mexican restaurant downtown and trinkets for the staff.
Jack, already a legend, intimidated me in those early days. I soon learned how kind and gracious he was. He had a tremendous work ethic. I remember working late at our old building on Woodbridge. With tall cubicle walls in the newsroom, I would think I was alone. Then I would hear Jack grumbling at his computer or even (on occasion) smell smoke wafting through the air. He thought he was alone, too.
The most helpful tip I've gotten from editors through the years is: Write like Jack. He may be the oldest person in the newsroom, but his writing style is the freshest and youngest. I'm still trying to live up to that advice.
-- Amy Wilson, Automotive News reporter
An impressive memory
I learned a lot from Jack and I am honored to have worked closely with him for nearly 15 years. I was in awe of Jack's knowledge of the automotive industry and I am still amazed by his ability to recall facts and highlights of the industry from memory. After 15 years of researching his recollections, I found that nearly 99 percent of the time he was indeed correct. I will miss hearing one of his favorite lines he used when requesting data: "Can you push a button on that contraption and get me some data that I need?" Jack was also a very kind and generous person. I will miss him.
-- Mary Raetz, director, Automotive News Data Center