F. James McDonald, Retired GM President, Dies at 87

Jun 14, 2010, 19:18 ET from General Motors

DETROIT, June 14 /PRNewswire/ -- F. James (Jim) McDonald, who served as president and chief operating officer of General Motors Corp. throughout much of the 1980s, died Sunday, June 13, 2010.

McDonald's career spanned the post World War II auto boom, when GM grew to dominate the U.S. car market.  Among his many GM assignments, he served as general manager at both Pontiac and Chevrolet.

McDonald was named president and chief operating officer of GM on February 1, 1981, and served in those positions until his retirement on August 31, 1987.  During that period, he also served as chairman of the executive and administrative committees for the GM Board of Directors, and as a member of the finance committee.

As president, McDonald made improving GM quality a top priority.  He opened a dialogue with UAW leaders that led to the creation of the UAW-GM Quality Network, a new approach involving local plant and union leadership in efforts to improve product quality and customer satisfaction. The Quality Network continued long after McDonald's retirement.

Prior to being named president and chief operating officer, McDonald had been an executive vice president and member of the GM board with responsibility for car and truck, body and assembly, electrical components, mechanical components, power products, and overseas operations. He served as general manager for the Pontiac Motor Division from February 1969 through October 1972, when he became general manager of Chevrolet Motor Division, a position he held until he was named executive vice president and a member of the board in December 1974.

McDonald was born on August 3, 1922 in Saginaw, Michigan, and attended the General Motors Institute (now Kettering University), in Flint, Mich., under the sponsorship of the Saginaw Malleable Iron Division.  Upon graduation, he became an engineering officer in the submarine service and served aboard two submarines in the Pacific Theater.

After leaving the Navy in 1946, McDonald returned to Saginaw Malleable Iron and served in various engineering, sales, production and control, and manufacturing positions.  He also served as works manager and as general manager of Detroit Transmission Division, which became Hydra-matic Division; as works manager of the Pontiac Motor Division; and as director of manufacturing operations for Chevrolet.

He is survived by his wife of 66 years, Betty; daughter Marybeth Cunningham; sons John and Tim; seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to Boys and Girls Clubs of Indian River County, P.O. Box 643068, Vero Beach, FL 32964; or Indian River Medical Center Foundation, 1000 36th Street, Vero Beach, FL 32960; or Riverside Theatre, 3250 Riverside Park Drive, Vero Beach, Florida  32963.

Visitation will take place on Wednesday, June 16, 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., at Strunk Funeral Home, Vero Beach.  A Mass of Christian Burial will be held 10:00 a.m., on Thursday, June 17, at Holy Cross Catholic Church, Vero Beach.  A visitation will also take place at the A.J. Desmond and Sons Funeral Home in Royal Oak, Mich., on Sunday, June 20, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m., with a Mass at St. Hugo of the Hills Church, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, on Monday, June 21, at 11:00 a.m.

About General Motors:  General Motors, one of the world's largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908.  With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 205,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in some 140 countries.  GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 31 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands:  Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Daewoo, Holden, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling.  GM's largest national market is the United States, followed by China, Brazil, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Italy.  GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services.  General Motors acquired operations from General Motors Corporation on July 10, 2009, and references to prior periods in this and other press materials refer to operations of the old General Motors Corporation.  More information on the new General Motors can be found at www.gm.com.

SOURCE General Motors