If Laurence Greene gave any thought to retiring from the auto industry he didn't mention it.
Colleagues at Mitsubishi Motor Manufacturing of America Inc., where the 67-year-old Greene served as executive vice president of procurement and sup- ply, think Greene was simply too busy to retire.
Greene died Oct. 9 in Bloom-ington, Ill., after a short illness.
'Larry was very important to us,' said Kim Custer, spokesman for Mitsubishi Motors of America Inc. 'He played a much bigger role in Mitsubishi than his titles indicated.'
Greene, a Detroit native who joined Chrysler Corp. in 1952 as a 20-year-old government liaison supervisor, wore at least three hats with Mitsubishi.
In addition to running the automaker's U.S. purchasing effort, he oversaw Mitsubishi's government affairs and also served on the board of Mitsubishi's California-based U.S. sales subsidiary.
'He had the big picture,' Custer said. 'He thoroughly understood Mitsubishi.'
Greene joined the Bloomington carmaker in 1987 with a bevy of other Chrysler managers. At that time, the plant was a 50-50 joint venture with Chrysler called Diamond Star Motors Corp.
But in the early 1990s, when Chrysler sold out and other Chrysler executives either retired or returned to Detroit, Greene stayed on.
The Japanese automaker was intent on localizing more content on its U.S. cars. Greene built the procurement operation into a staff of 50 that currently spends more than $2 billion a year with North American suppliers.
Greene also was assisting with Mitsubishi's efforts to improve its financially troubled U.S. operations.
His 1997 appointment to the board of Mitsubishi Sales was intended to draw the two subsidiaries closer together, and to make the factory and the sales office work together.
No decision has been reached on Greene's successor.