John K. Teahen Jr., who was born a week before Automotive News' founding in 1925 and became a pillar of the publication through six decades of writing and editing, died Tuesday, Jan. 8, after a long illness. He was 87. His first byline appeared in Automotive News on Nov. 14, 1955. His last was posted on autonews.com on Sept.
When I got to Automotive News about 15 years ago, Jack Teahen and I hit it off right away. We had some things in common: Irish backgrounds; experience at the Detroit Free Press; a fondness for grammar, punctuation and syntax; and the reputation of being just a bit curmudgeonly. Who, me?
I went to work at Automotive News in 1984 and soon after my arrival became the General Motors reporter. Jack Teahen was my editor. He scared the bejesus out of me. He’d grill me on details, especially related to numbers, and question whatever line GM execs fed me.
"Wow, what a grouch." That was my first impression of Jack Teahen, who was managing editor of Automotive News when I joined the newspaper as a reporter 29 years ago next month. Of course, by the end of my first week I had changed my mind completely.