Paul Ingrassia, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of numerous articles and books on the auto industry, has died after battling cancer. He was 69.
The Wall Street Journal reported he had been treated for pancreatic cancer.
Ingrassia lived in Naples, Fla., where he was editor and writer at the Revs Institute, an automotive history and research center.
He was managing editor at Reuters from 2011 until 2016.
"Intensely joyful and bristling with enthusiasm for journalism, cars, fly-fishing, golf, people in general and his adored family in particular, he was also cruelly afflicted," said Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen Adler. "He survived lung cancer surgery 22 years ago, only to lose his beloved son Charlie to cancer earlier this year. He suffered through other cancer diagnoses in recent years, gamely tackling each treatment and, between relentless medical interventions, managing to sneak in a fishing trip, a golf game or an appearance on CNBC."
In accepting a Gerald Loeb Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016, Ingrassia acknowledged his bouts with cancer by deadpanning: “I often think that my biggest lifetime achievement is simply having a lifetime.”
Ingrassia spent three decades at Dow Jones Inc., in senior leadership roles at the company's flagship paper, The Wall Street Journal, and the news wire, before joining Reuters.
It was at the Journal in 1993 that Ingrassia won a Pulitzer Prize for beat reporting, along with colleague Joe White, for coverage of the boardroom uprising that toppled General Motors CEO Robert Stempel.
White, now Reuters global automotive industry editor, said that in 1992 GM issued a press release announcing a leadership shakeup after a series of large quarterly losses.
"Paul saw immediately that there was a bigger story: That GM’s board of directors had rebelled, and were asserting control over the company after years of allowing the company’s CEOs to have their way," White said. "He and I began contacting sources, not just those on the winning side but those who had lost as well.
"Paul had cultivated relationships across the spectrum of GM’s fractious executive and middle management ranks, and people trusted that he would present their views fairly," White said.
Ingrassia and White later teamed up on a book, Comeback: The Fall & Rise of the American Automobile Industry.
Ingrassia "fell in love with the auto industry, and his writing drew inspiration from its rhythms, its larger-than-life personalities and its epic booms and busts," said Tony Cervone, head of global communications at GM . "He could be tough. You don’t earn a Pulitzer by pulling your punches. But his copy was always a great read."
He loved cars too, Cervone noted, adding Ingrassia "wasn’t afraid to remind people during the Great Recession and the auto bailout controversy why people write songs about cars – not banks."
Ingrassia also wrote Engines of Change: A History of the American Dream in Fifteen Cars, and Crash Course: The American Automobile Industry’s Road From Glory to Disaster.
The latter spawned a documentary, Live Another Day, a title that might easily have served for a memoir as well.
Larry Ingrassia, also a journalist, said he followed his older brother to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. While Larry always thought of himself as a generalist, he said, "Paul was into cars. Once he got to Detroit, that was it."
"He loved the fact that it was an industry that had larger-than-life characters ... He loved the idea that it encompassed everything about business and beyond: design and engineering and labor relations and great rivalries among the companies, and environmental issues and international trade issues," Larry said. "It was all those things that kind of really fascinated him."