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Lido Anthony Iacocca

October 15, 1924 July 2, 2019
Lido Anthony Iacocca
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Obituary for Lido Anthony Iacocca

Lee Iacocca, the “father of the Ford Mustang” and executive responsible for turning around the Chrysler Corporation in the 1980s, passed away July 2, 2019 in Bel Air, California. He was 94.

The only son of Italian immigrants, Mr. Iacocca was born October 15, 1924 in Allentown, Pennsylvania and attended Lehigh University, completing his studies in eight straight semesters. Shortly after graduation, he won a Wallace Memorial Fellowship and went to Princeton.

While still in college, Mr. Iacocca dreamed about working for Ford Motor Company. “I drove a beat-up 1938 sixty horsepower Ford that could barely make it up the hills at Lehigh. These guys need me,” he joked with his friend. “Anybody who builds a car this bad could use my help.”

He began work at Ford in the summer of 1946, introduced the Mustang in 1964 and became President in 1970. Some of the best years of his life he said were 1964-1968. “My wife Mary was alive. Our second daughter Lia was born. We had just introduced the Mustang. I was on top of the world,” he recalled.

Ten years later his career at Ford came to a screeching halt. After clashing with his boss Henry Ford, his abrupt firing rocked the automotive world – particularly since he had just announced a record-breaking $2 billion annual profit. Eight months into his early retirement he was hired by Chrysler, which was on the brink of bankruptcy. As CEO and Chairman of the Chrysler Corporation, he took on many additional roles which included having to testify before Congress in order to secure government-backed loan to keep the company afloat long enough for him to turn things around. The $1.2 billion loan was repaid one year ahead of schedule, with interest.

While running Chrysler, he became the face of the company appearing in more than 70 television commercials using his charisma to convince skeptical American car buyers to purchase his revamped and more fuel efficient product line. Who can forget his reassuring voice telling us, “If you can find a better car, buy it.”

During his lifetime, Mr. Iacocca received numerous honorary degrees from prestigious colleges and universities, delivered more than 600 speeches and wrote three books, including his autobiography which sold more than 6.5 million copies. With the proceeds from his books he established the Iacocca Family Foundation in 1984 to cure diabetes, the disease that took the life of his first wife Mary.

However, what Mr. Iacocca most wanted to be remembered for was not his success as a businessman but his work as head of the Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation which raised funds to restore and preserve the Statue of Liberty and Great Hall of Ellis Island. “All the success I’ve had, all the jobs I’ve saved and the lives I’ve influenced would never have happened if my parents had been turned away at Ellis Island,” he stated.

Mr. Iacocca was also especially proud to have established the Iacocca Institute and the Global Village at Lehigh University which aim to “create intensive intercultural learning experiences that develop and challenge the next generation of global leaders.”

He loved and honored his parents, his sister Delma and his four nieces and nephews. He was extremely proud of his daughters Kathryn (Ned) Hentz and Lia (Victor) Iacocca-Assad. He was blessed to have lived a long life and had time to get to know and enjoy his eight grandchildren: Mary-Caitlin, Molly, Parker and Maeve Hentz and Arianna, Nick, Logan and Trey Assad.

Visitation will be held at Lynch & Sons Funeral Home 1368 N. Crooks Road, Clawson, Michigan (Between 14-15 Mile Roads) on Tuesday, July 9, 2019 from 2-8pm. A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Hugo of the Hills, 2215 Opdyke Road, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan 48304 on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 at 11am. Burial will follow in White Chapel Cemetery, Troy, Michigan.

Donation in memory of Mr. Iacocca may be made to:
Massachusetts General Hospital – Faustman Lab
Building 149, 13th Street, CNY-3601
Charlestown, MA 02129
617.726.4084
www.faustmanlab.org

Please include “Join Lee Now” in the memo line.
Or online
https://giving.massgeneral.org/donate/faustman-lab/


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