Jeremiah Farrell, the retired president of Chrysler Financial Corp. who played a key role in the survival of Chrysler dealers during Lee Iacocca's late 1970s and early 1980s turnaround plan for the troubled automaker, died on Feb. 7 following an illness. He was 82.
Chrysler, bleeding cash and facing a weak U.S. auto market, secured an historic government-backed rescue signed by President Jimmy Carter as part of a sweeping package of concessions from unions, lenders and other creditors to stay afloat. The Small Business Administration provided hundreds of millions of dollars in guaranteed loans to car dealers to weather the downturn.
“If it wasn’t for Chrysler Financial, I think most of the dealers would have gone out of business during that critical period,” Ken Meade, founder of The Meade Group of auto dealerships in the Detroit area, said in Farrell's obituary. “Jerry Farrell’s leadership was the life force that we needed at that time on the dealer level.”
After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, Farrell began his career in automotive finance with Associates Discount Corp. in Albany, N.Y. He joined Chrysler Credit in 1967, serving in regional management roles and later as vice president of field operations, a key post at the time of the government bailout. He was named president of Chrysler Financial in 1985.
"The role of a strong and creative captive financial unit has become critical to success in the U.S. auto industry, and Jerry Farrell has played a key role in the growth and, more importantly, the stability of Chrysler Financial Corp. He can be very proud of his accomplishments and contributions to CFC," former Chrysler Chairman Bob Eaton said at the time of Farrell's retirement.
Following his retirement in 1995, Farrell continued to play key consulting roles in the industry. In 2007, he was part of a team that included former Chrysler COO Wolfgang Bernhard and former chief designer Tom Gale to help advise private Cerberus Capital Management during its purchase of Chrysler Group from what was then known as DaimlerChrysler.
Visitation will be held 3-7 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 12, at A.J. Desmond Funeral Home, 32515 Woodward Ave., Royal Oak, Mich. The funeral mass will be held Thursday, Feb. 13, at 11 a.m. at St. Hugo Stone Chapel, 2215 Opdyke Road, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.