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Old 11-30-2007, 01:40 PM   #1
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Attention Father of Saturn Dies at age 82

The man who was at the helm of the world's greatest corporation throughout the '80's died today. He was was behind many changes at GM, not the least of which was the creation of the Saturn brand.

Quote:
AP
Former GM CEO Roger Smith Dies at 82

Friday November 30, 12:26 pm ET
By Tom Krisher, AP Auto Writer
Former GM

Chairman and CEO Roger Smith Dies at 82

DETROIT (AP) -- Roger B. Smith, who led General Motors Corp. in the 1980s and was the subject of Michael Moore's searing documentary "Roger & Me," has died, the automaker said Friday. He was 82.
Smith died Thursday in the Detroit area after an unspecified brief illness, GM
He was appointed chairman and chief executive on Jan. 1, 1981, and led the world's largest automaker until his retirement on July 31, 1990.

During Smith's tenure as chief executive, Detroit-based GM introduced its first front-wheel-drive midsize cars, formed a joint venture with Toyota Motor Corp. to manufacture cars in California, created the Saturn brand and acquired Electronic Data Systems and Hughes Aircraft Corp.

"Roger Smith led GM during a period of tremendous innovation in the industry," current GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner said in a statement. "He was a leader who knew that we have to accept change, understand change, and learn to make it work for us. Roger was truly a pioneer in the fast-moving global industry that we now take for granted."

Smith also served GM as an executive vice president and a member of the board of directors beginning in 1974.

Moore has become an Oscar-winning documentary maker, but he became famous with "Roger & Me," which explored how GM's plant closings and layoffs affected his hometown of Flint.

The 1989 film chronicles Moore's fruitless attempts to interview Smith about the devastation in Flint, although magazine articles and documentaries have alleged that Smith granted interviews to Moore prior to the film's release.

Moore has acknowledged a five-minute interview with Smith about a company tax abatement at a 1987 shareholders' meeting, but said that was before he started working on the movie.

Smith often faced questions about the documentary, which contained interviews of people who said they lost their homes after GM plant closures in Flint.

One woman said she had to start killing rabbits for food after GM shut down the plants, eliminating 30,000 jobs in the city of 150,000.

"I haven't seen it," Smith told reporters shortly after the film was released. "I'm not much for sick humor, and I don't like things that take advantage of poor people."

At the time, Moore said he arranged with Warner Bros. to reserve a seat for Smith at every showing of the movie across the United States.

Smith was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1925 and served in the Navy from 1944 to 1946. He received a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1947 from the University of Michigan, and a master's degree in business from the school in 1953.

His career at GM began in 1949 as an accounting clerk. He became treasurer in 1970 and vice president in 1971. In 1974, he was elected executive vice president in charge of the financial, public relations and government relations staffs.

He led the company as import brands began to expand their market share and as GM grew its global business and dealt with tough U.S. environmental and safety standards.
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Old 11-30-2007, 02:15 PM   #2
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Default Re: Father of Saturn Dies at age 82

I was just coming to post the same article, but was searching to make sure it wasn't already posted, LOL.

Yeah, it's kinda sad, he did create Saturn after-all.

I always wonder if Saturn would've been better and had less flops had him and Skip (assuming he didn't die) still been running Saturn.
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Old 11-30-2007, 02:55 PM   #3
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Default Re: Father of Saturn Dies at age 82

Well, one thing is for sure...Rick Wagoner will never be able to live up to what Roger Smith created in Saturn and GM.

GodSpeed Smith.

You will be missed, but Saturn Owners will always know that you were:

A Different Kind of Guy for a Different Kind of Car Company.


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Old 11-30-2007, 04:19 PM   #4
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Default Re: Father of Saturn Dies at age 82

I thought Roger Smith passed away a couple of years ago. I could swear there was a discussion about it here! Am I just losing my mind?
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Old 11-30-2007, 04:43 PM   #5
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Default Re: Father of Saturn Dies at age 82

Quote:
Originally Posted by VTHokie00SL2 View Post
I thought Roger Smith passed away a couple of years ago. I could swear there was a discussion about it here! Am I just losing my mind?
Maybe you are thinking of Richard G. "Skip" LeFauve, former president of Saturn Corporation? He died in 2003:

http://www.saturnfans.com/Company/20...ntribute.shtml
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Old 11-30-2007, 05:18 PM   #6
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Default Re: Father of Saturn Dies at age 82

May his ride in heaven be shod with polymer panels
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Old 11-30-2007, 05:31 PM   #7
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Default Re: Father of Saturn Dies at age 82

Quote:
Originally Posted by SaturnManiac View Post
I always wonder if Saturn would've been better and had less flops had him and Skip (assuming he didn't die) still been running Saturn.
Good question.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2NDSOUT
Well, one thing is for sure...Rick Wagoner will never be able to live up to what Roger Smith created in Saturn and GM.

GodSpeed Smith.

You will be missed, but Saturn Owners will always know that you were:

A Different Kind of Guy for a Different Kind of Car Company.
AMEN

Quote:
Originally Posted by piney
May his ride in heaven be shod with polymer panels
Sorry to borrow others condolences but they have already said it best IMHO
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Old 11-30-2007, 05:52 PM   #8
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Default Re: Father of Saturn Dies at age 82

The comments made about Rodger here are much more endearing than those left at GMi. Although everyone is being respectful, of course, they are not forgetting the many mis-steps he made during his long and often difficult time as GM's top man. I will always look at with with great respect, but the years he was heading things up were not the best for the General. In fact, they were likely their worst in many ways if not financially. May God rest his soul.
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Old 11-30-2007, 10:37 PM   #9
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Default Re: Father of Saturn Dies at age 82

Just came from browsing the thread at GMI over this news and wondered what the buzz would be on a Saturn board...

Like Uzzy said, comments here are much more endearing and are far less critical, which I expected, since Saturn was Roger Smith's baby. We wouldn't be driving the cars we are now if it weren't for Roger. So thank you, Mr. Smith, for the "different kind of cars" from a "different kind of company" that we drive every day.

Condolences to Roger Smith's family, especially at this time of year.
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Old 12-01-2007, 02:51 AM   #10
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Devil Re: Father of Saturn Dies at age 82

In my view, Roger Smith's single outstanding accomplishment was the formation of the Saturn Motor Company as an independent car company. It was a wonderful idea that would have worked were it not for the vicious motor division infighting and purposeful attempts to cause Saturn's demise. Roger Smith was also a target.

As for Michael Moore's film, many GM policies were exposed at what was otherwise a very bad time for General Motors and Detroit in general.
May God have mercy on Roger's soul.
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Old 12-01-2007, 09:46 AM   #11
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Default Re: Father of Saturn Dies at age 82

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2NDSOUT View Post
Well, one thing is for sure...Rick Wagoner will never be able to live up to what Roger Smith created in Saturn and GM.
True, there will never be another Saturn, or such an undertaking on such a scale probably ever again. Roger Smith always liked to think big and Saturn is the epitome of that. In fact, the GM website used to have a video clip of him driving the first Saturn off the line and making a speech afterwards, but I can no longer find it. It would have been an appropriate thing to post here in light of this news.

Be that as it may, I think Rick Wagoner is the best CEO GM has had in last 30 or 40 years. In fact history may show him as second only to Alfred Sloan. He's a beancounter, but he is the first one to realize that smoke and mirrors accounting and more smoke and mirrors marketing of the cars is not the ticket. It's all about the product and FINALLY a GM CEO realizes that. I look forward to great things from GM in the coming years under his leadership.
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Old 12-01-2007, 01:44 PM   #12
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Default Re: Father of Saturn Dies at age 82

I respect the GMI crowd's candor, but save the harsh stuff for after Roger Smith is mourned and buried. Whatever his intentions and vision for the company in the 1980's (automation, NUMMI, the birth of Saturn, etc.), the overall effect of his tenure at the top of GM was largely negative, and while Smith was not solely responsible for it, though his position at the top of the corporate food chain made him an easy and convenient target. My deepest condolences goes out to his family at this time. If not for Roger Smith's creation, I'd likely be driving a '99 Honda right now.

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Old 12-03-2007, 10:01 PM   #13
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Default Re: Father of Saturn Dies at age 82

May God give Roger Smith's soul rest and may He send peace to his family - I'll leave commentary on his career for another time.

Hopefully his ride in Heaven is a Homecoming Edition...
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Old 12-04-2007, 02:58 PM   #14
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Default Re: Father of Saturn Dies at age 82

Quote:
Originally Posted by john95SW2 View Post
May God give Roger Smith's soul rest and may He send peace to his family - I'll leave commentary on his career for another time.

Hopefully his ride in Heaven is a Homecoming Edition...

Well said as a Gentleman.
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Old 12-13-2007, 05:58 PM   #15
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Default Re: Father of Saturn Dies at age 82

Just noticed this thread. Heck. I got worried. I thought it was Skip.

Poor Roger, He had Michael Moore hounding him in, "Roger & Me." That movie kracked me up in some parts. Like when the GM worker who missing a few teeth WAS selling rabbits to make ends meet. I still remember the sign:

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FOR PETS OR MEAT
."
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