Paul Hitch retired more than 40 years ago as chief engineer of Chevy Trucks, but he never goes a day without talking about the Detroit automaker where he spent decades building vehicles.
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So Hitch, who turned 101 on March 2, naturally remembered that Chevrolet was celebrating its own centennial this year. He mentioned to his son how much he would like to speak with company executives, possibly even the man who currently holds his old position.
A few phone calls were made, and on March 26, Eric Stanczak, the current chief engineer of Chevy Trucks, knocked on the door of Hitch’s home in Savannah, Georgia.
“The conversation flew by. We reminisced about trucks, how the industry has really evolved,” Stanczak told ABC News. “He asked me a lot of questions. Paul is a very inquisitive guy.”
The highlight of the meeting came when Hitch and Stanczak spoke by FaceTime with Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, who called from her office in Detroit.
“Mary wished him a happy birthday, and was so thankful that he contributed so many great things to the corporation,” Stanczak said.
Barra’s father, who was a toolmaker at a GM plant, overlapped at the company with Hitch.
Very few women worked at GM during Hitch’s tenure, he said, and he hired only one female engineer for his department.
Hitch started his career at Chevrolet in 1935, when he was 18 years old. He attended General Motors Institute of Technology (now Kettering University) in Michigan, where he studied mechanical engineering. Four years later he returned home to Indianapolis, working for GM as a junior engineer.
“In those days you didn’t have too many choices for a job. It was still the Depression,” he told ABC News.