Roger B. Smith has passed away at the age of 82. Smith led General Motors through a period of significant change back in the 1980's and passed away yesterday after a brief illness.
Ohio-born Smith took the position as chairman and CEO of GM on January 1st, 1981 and retired in July of 1990.
He was appointed chairman and CEO on January 1, 1981, and led the world's largest automaker until his retirement on July 31, 1990. He had been with GM since 1949 when he started as a general accounting clerk. Smith directed the American automaker through a rough time in the auto industry- through the challenges of a globally expanding market, new safety and environmental standards and increased competition on American soil.
Some of the company's achievements on his watch included the introduction of front-wheel-drive mid-sized cars, the formation of a joint manufacturing venture with Toyota, and the creation of the Saturn brand.
"Roger Smith led GM during a period of tremendous innovation in the industry" said GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner. "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."