Lloyd Reuss, President of GM in the ‘90s, Has Died

·3 min read
lloyd reuss with saturn car
Lloyd Reuss, GM President in the '90s, Has DiedRalf-Finn Hestoft - Getty Images
  • Lloyd Reuss, president of GM under Robert Stempel, has died at the age of 86.

  • Reuss became president when Stempel was promoted to CEO upon the ouster of accountant-turned-car-executive Roger Smith.

  • Reuss and Stempel were car guys in an era when bean counters ruled GM.

Former GM president Lloyd Reuss, a mechanical engineer who worked his way up through the ranks at General Motors and ultimately became president from 1990 to 1992, and whose son Mark Reuss is currently GM president, has died at 86.

“It is with deep sorrow and great joy that we celebrate our dad, husband, and grandfather as he joined God April 21, 2023,” son Mark announced today on social media.

The senior Reuss joined GM in 1957 and embarked on a 36-year career at the automaker, in a time when company loyalty went both ways, from the employees who spent their entire working lives in one place, and from the corporations who benevolently kept them there.

Reuss rose through the executive ranks, becoming chief engineer of Buick by 1975, at a time when chief engineers held prodigious power. He went on to fill corporate positions for the next 18 years in the thick-carpeted, wood-paneled halls of power at one of the world’s largest carmakers.

Reuss was a friend and contemporary of eventual GM CEO Bob Stempel. When Stempel became CEO upon the ouster of Roger Smith, Reuss became president. But the two found themselves burdened with a cripplingly awkward corporate structure, following as they did on the heels of the reign of GM titan Smith, who was an accountant. Smith had inexplicably reorganized the company into Buick-Olds-Cadillac and Chevrolet-Pontiac-Canada.

Heads are still being scratched over that move. Stempel and Reuss did their best, but plunging sales following the Iraq War, combined with shareholders eager for dividends, saw the board boot them both.

Once free of the GM mothership, rather than complain bitterly or write a tell-all expose, Reuss dove headlong into charity work, in particular, Focus: HOPE, a Detroit organization that offered anyone who wanted it job training and placement, along with the skills and inspiration to tackle life’s challenges.

“Recognizing the dignity and beauty of every person, we pledge intelligent and practical action to overcome racism, poverty and injustice, and to build a metropolitan community where all people may live in freedom, harmony, trust and affection,” says the group’s website. It’s still active in Detroit.

Lloyd Reuss is survived by children Charlene and Mark, daughter-in-law Kim, and grandchildren Amanda, Nick, Grant, Grace, and Sophia. Reuss was married to wife Maurcine, who passed away in 2020, for 63 years.

No plans have been released for a memorial service or a charity to support, but it certainly wouldn’t be a bad idea to make a contribution to Focus: HOPE in Reuss’ name.