Joseph Campana, one of the integral figures in Lee Iacocca's management team during Chrysler Corp.'s resurrection in the early 1980s, died Oct. 8 after a brief illness at his seasonal home in Vero Beach, Fla. He was 66.
Campana is remembered by his son, Jay, for having a passion for cars and being tirelessly involved in the industry -- from executive positions at Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler to the Florida dealerships he owned after he left Detroit.
Joseph Campana was a graduate of Yale University. He spent 15 years in various domestic sales, service and marketing positions at Ford and taught as an adjunct professor of marketing at the University of Michigan before joining Chrysler in July 1979 as director of marketing plans.
"When he said he was leaving Ford to work for Chrysler, I said, 'Dad, are you out of your mind?'" Jay Campana recalled. "He saw enough in (Iacocca) to make the jump. He knew he would work for nothing for 20 hours a day if he had to, to make it happen and bring Chrysler back."
At Chrysler, Campana rose from director of marketing plans and programs to vice president of Chrysler Motors' Chrysler-Plymouth Division. He became corporate vice president in 1982 and served as an officer until his retirement in 1990. He molded some of Chrysler's event marketing relationships, partnering with The Masters in golf and the Triple Crown in horse racing.
In 1989, after Chrysler said it would consolidate three divisional marketing groups -- Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler -- into one operation, Campana sensed it was time to go.
"Quite frankly, one of the major reasons for my deciding ... to step aside was a recognition that after 30 years in the business and having been in on many of the tough markets in the past, I think I was ready to play more golf," Joseph Campana said at his retirement announcement.
But he remained active in the business.
His father, Armand, had owned and operated car dealerships near Youngstown, Ohio, and Sharon, Penn., Campana focused his energy on dealerships in Vero Beach and Titusville, Fla., In 1992, son Jay moved to Vero Beach to help run the family business.
In 1990, Joseph Campana also created the automotive division of Carlson Marketing Group, which he ran for three years.
Campana is survived by his wife, Susan, as well as a son and daughter. He has four grandchildren.
Services will be held Saturday, Oct. 25, at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Vero Beach, Fla., at 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to: The United Network for Organ Sharing Foundation, 700 North 4th Street, Richmond, Va. 22319. Indicate National Organ Donor Memorial/Joseph A. Campana on the donation.