Nearly a decade after his 2005 retirement, former Ford president and COO Nick Scheele died Friday at the age of 70. Scheele spent 38 years at Ford, serving in executive roles in Europe and the United States alike.
Known as a well-respected problem solver, Scheele spent much of his executive career helping Ford work through especially difficult transition periods. Before finishing his career as president and COO of Ford from 2001-2004, Scheele spearheaded the company’s North American operations. He also spent seven years as CEO of Jaguar from 1992 to 1999.
“Not only did Nick help us overcome many challenges at the time, he mended relationships with our dealers, our suppliers and our employees, and set the stage for many of today’s leaders who are moving us forward," Ford executive chairman Bill Ford said in a statement. “Nick Scheele was an outstanding leader whose global experience and passion for our products served Ford Motor Company at a critical time."
The last chapter of Scheele’s career was marked by his decision to postpone retirement in favor of helping Ford restructure and prepare for the next generation of managers of executives. “We’ve now got the next generation of management in place,” he told Automotive News in 2005. “They’re now taking the company forward. That is what my responsibility really partially was.”
Scheele was born in 1944 in Essex, England. His career at Ford began in 1966, and he worked in senior purchasing roles in the UK before moving to the U.S. in 1978. He was also a capable linguist, fluent in several European languages, and was knighted in 2001 for his service to British exports.
The longtime Ford executive is survived by his wife, Ros; three children Paul, Hannah, and Jim; as well as five grandchildren.