Lee Iacocca, who became famous as president of the Ford Motor Co. and head of the Chrysler Corp., died July 2, 2019, of complications of Parkinson’s disease at age 94.
Iacocca graduated from Lehigh University in 1945, and in 1946 earned a master’s degree from Princeton in mechanical engineering. He then joined Ford, worked tirelessly in sales, and after a decade, became a corporate director of truck marketing. He came to the attention of Robert McNamara, who became Ford’s president.
When McNamara left to become President Kennedy’s secretary of defense, Iacocca became vice president and general manager of the Ford Division. In 1964 he brought out the Mustang sports car and earned a place in auto history. He became Ford’s president in 1970, reporting only to Henry Ford II, the chairman. Ford admitted disliking Iacocca and fired him in 1978.
Months later, Iacocca joined the failing Chrysler as chief executive. He asked the federal government to guarantee loans to Chrysler because it was too important to fail, and he could turn it around. The government agreed, and Chrysler became immensely successful. In 1992 Iacocca retired from Chrysler.
Iacocca married Mary McCleary in 1956, and she died in 1983. He is survived by two daughters and eight grandchildren.
Graduate memorials are prepared by the APGA.