I am writing to thank you for your kind words (June 14) regarding my grandfather Jim Roche, former CEO and chairman of General Motors, who died June 6.
I was privileged to have a special perspective on that remarkable man as both his grandson and a retail automobile dealer for 25 years.
It is hard to imagine in today's culture a top corporate executive who had unwavering principles that he actually lived by. He was a tough, tenacious, successful competitor who wanted to win, but not at any cost.
He always played within the rules and understood his obligations to the public, GM employees and GM shareholders. The notion of shortchanging one of those constituencies for personal gain was beyond his comprehension.
He had many highlights during his career. When World War II broke out, he was one of the architects of the changeover to military production. The change was so efficient that a tank powered by two Cadillac engines immediately followed the last Cadillac produced on the assembly line during the war.
As general manager of Cadillac, he broke every sales record by a wide margin, and, as president, he led GM through one of the most tumultuous times in the history of GM and our nation.
He climbed from an entry-level position at Cadillac to chairman of the board without the benefit of privilege, connections or a college education.
When asked by a reporter after his last shareholder meeting what of all his accomplishments he would like to be remembered for, he said simply, "What I would like to be remembered for is having always acted responsibly." As I said, he was a remarkable man.