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Latest News of Interest to
R.E. Olds Chapter members
News concerning our chapter and its members will be posted on this page as often as necessary. If you have an item that would be of interest to other chapter members, please send it to webmaster@reolds.org.


Posted: June 16, 2013

Long-time Chapter Member Jim Walkinshaw

James Walkinshaw, Oldsmobile historian and author, passed away on Sunday, May 5, 2013, in Lansing MI from a massive stroke. He was 78 years old. Jim and his wife, Janet, were married on August 17, 1957. They celebrated their 55th anniversary this past summer with their families at a long time family retreat on Lake Michigan.

In June of 1953, Jim graduated from high school in Battle Creek, MI. He went on to graduate from General Motors Institute with a Bachelors of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering in June of 1957, where Oldsmobile Division of General Motors had sponsored him. Jim's career spanned 33 years at the Oldsmobile Division and he retired in 1986 as Superintendent of Manufacturing Engineering at the Delta Engine Plant. During his retirement years he co-authored several books with Helen Earley - the Oldsmobile centennial book "Setting the Pace", "Oldsmobile War Years Pictorial", and "Oldsmobile the Last Chapter". Jim and Helen also co-founded the Oldsmobile History Center. Jim's interests and hobbies later in life were driving his pride and joy - his 1905 Curved Dash Oldsmobile. Jim was a well-known sight at mid-Michigan car shows, where he provided rides in his CDO to eager enthusiasts. He enjoyed giving rides and explaining the Curved Dash history to his passengers.

Jim's interest in Oldsmobile history led him to volunteer his time freely at the R. E. Olds Transportation Museum. He was very knowledgeable on Oldsmobile history and was a great resource for the museum. His latest project at the museum was to create a display that would simulate the Curve Dash assembly line. This exhibit uses beams from the original Oldsmobile plant as the perimeter of the display. It has a nearly life-size picture of the original assembly line as a backdrop and then features various stages of the assembly production. This creative display was completed only 2 days before Jim passed. Jim intended to use a portion of the area to conduct classes for budding engineers and enthusiasts in general. He was very vocal in his desire to make sure the youth understood about the beginnings of the automotive industry.

In lieu of flowers the family requests memorial donations to be made to the:

R. E. Olds Transportation Museum
240 Museum Drive
Lansing, MI 48933  or

 Boy Scouts of America Troop 33 c/o Chris Klaver
1217 W Ionia St.
Lansing, MI 48915

Jim was a friend to many people, be it a long-time acquaintance or if it was the first time you meet him. He was always giving to others and through his actions many have been touched. He was a true gentleman and will be greatly missed. Oldsmobile enthusiasts have lost a great friend and historian with the passing of Jim Walkinshaw.

Posted: June 16, 2013

Long-time Chapter Member Pete Gibson

Peter M. Gibson of Lansing was born August 4, 1924, in Flint, MI. The son of the late Lee and Opal (Ecker) Gibson, passed away March 25, 2013, in Glendale, AZ, at the age of 88. Peter served his country in the U.S. Navy during WWII and retired from Oldsmobile engineering after 36 years of service. He was preceded in death by his wives, Veronica Mary Gibson in 2002 and LaRae Spannagel Gibson in 2008. Surviving are his children, Candy, Tom and Craig; grandchildren, Jamie, Christopher and Brigid; 6 great-grandchildren; 1 great-great-granddaughter; and brothers, Bob and Don.

Pete joined the R. E. Olds Chapter in January 1986, and was member #53. He was instrumental in creating specific T-shirts for the Oldsmobile Homecoming car show when the show first began in a plant parking lot near the Olds Administration building. Outside of his Olds-engineering job, he was an entrepreneur; he saw a market for collectible model cars, and auto themed pins and t-shirts, and ordered items in large quantities from vendors to insure purchasing at the best price. Pete participated as a vendor in our Homecoming swap area for years and usually had one of the largest collectible displays in our show. During the summer, Pete traveled to most of the other major auto shows selling his wares. Shortly after retiring from GM, Pete traveled the car show circuit in a motor home, which contained custom under-the-floor storage for his collectibles showcases. During the 1980's, Pete helped to organize the Oldsmobile Camera Club since photography was one of Pete's other hobbies. Pete had a great business mind and will surly be missed.

Posted: June 16, 2013

Long-time Chapter Member Joe Pohl

Long-time member, Joe Pohl, passed away on August 1, 2012, at the age of 84. Joe served in the Army Air Corp and graduated from General Motors Institute. He retired from Oldsmobile in Lansing after 42 years of service. He and Barb were married for 62 years and had 3 daughters and 3 sons.

Joe and Barb joined the Chapter in November of 1987. Joe was not the kind of guy to sit and let someone else do the work. He served as Member-At-Large from 1993-1994; President from 1995-1997; Treasurer 2002-2004; and Membership Chairman 2005-2007. He was always a willing volunteer at Homecoming during those years as well.

Joe was very proud of the Oldsmobiles he owned. His 1966 Toronado was invited to participate in the prestigious "Eyes on Design" Classic Car show. In September of 2011, he was invited to bring the Toronado to Auburn to represent the American built Front-Wheel-Drive car at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg event. His was the only non-ACD vehicle to participate.
Joe and Barb also enjoyed getting their 1969 Cutlass convertible out for parades and Chapter functions. This year, as well as other years, they were both regulars at the Annual Memorial Day Parade and Chapter Picnic in Dimondale.

Joe will be missed by those of us who looked forward to hearing his opinions and his wonderful sense of humor, both of which he shared generously.
Posted January 21, 2008

OCA Representative and R.E. Olds Chapter member, Chuck Mitchell has passed away


Charles W. Mitchell "Chuck" Of Lansing, Michigan, age 73, died January 14, 2008. Born July 12, 1934 in Brethren, MI. Chuck served with the U.S. Navy for 8 years during the Korean conflict. He retired January 2000 from General Motors as machine repairman after 33 years of service. He was a longtime member of R.E. Olds Club, and enjoyed making jewelry.

Chuck attended his first annual banquet in 2000 as a guest with his son Bob, who was a member. Chuck became a member that night, and at the time of the election of officers, it was announced we were in need of an OCA representative. Chuck volunteered. He remained in that position until this year.

That same year, Chuck learned the Homecoming committee was looking for someone to collect door prizes for the annual show. Chuck volunteered to do that job, too. Chuck collected door prizes until last year when his health wouldn’t allow. He attended Board meetings, our monthly meetings, and the Homecoming meetings without missing very many. He was an enthusiastic, hard working member, and most of all a friend. We will miss him; we have lost a good person.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Ruby A. & Benjamin Mitchell. Surviving are his wife of 52 years, Carol Mitchell; his 2 sons, Kenneth B. (Jane) Mitchell, and Robert W. (Lise) Mitchell; his 4 grandchildren, Lisa (Brian) Hammerly, Benjamin Kenneth Mitchell, Charles David Mitchell, and Karen Ann Mitchell; sister, Barbara Horner; close friend, Nathan Edward Eustace, and many other friends. Cards can be sent to his family at home, 218 Dunlap St., Lansing, MI 48910. Contribution may be made Capital Area Humane Society or the Mother Teresa House In memory of Chuck. Friends may visit the guest book at www.tiffanyfuneralhome.com

Posted Feb. 20, 2006

Longtime R.E.Olds Chapter member, Dean Patterson has passed away

Dean Patterson, age 68, died February 2, 2006 at home with his family. Dean was a Motor Wheel retiree after serving them for 30 years.

If you regularly attend our monthly meetings, you probably don't remember Dean. He wasn't a "meeting" kind of guy. If you have attended the Homecoming

show in the past 10 years you will remember Dean and his wife Alice. They have both worked every year since they joined. Dean suffered a heart attack a few years ago but he still reported to work the Homecoming show with the help of Alice.

Dean and Alice own a red, 1969 Cutlass convertible. They loved the car. Dean did most of the restoration work himself. They were a regular sight at car shows around the mid-Michigan area and really enjoyed "cruisin" in the convertible.

We extend our sympathies to Alice and their family. A memorial contribution was made in his memory to the R.E.Olds Museum on behalf of our Chapter.

Posted: Jan. 15, 2005

"First Lady of Oldsmobile" and Charter Member, Helen Earley, Passes Away

The following is the obituary as printed in the Lansing State Journal on January 10, 2005, as written by Helen prior to her death:
Earley, Helen Jones, East Lansing,
MI September 4, 1917 to January 8, 2005. This will be my last letter to all my friends and acquaintance. I was born September 4, 1917 in Montcalm County, Michigan along with my twin sister, Bernice Bennett who still survives me. I graduated from the Sheridan (Michigan) High School, went on to Acme Business College in Lansing, MI and also attended Purdue University. In 1942, I took a job as a stenographer in machine procurement at Oldsmobile Division of General Motors in Lansing. After the war I moved into the Sales Department and progressed through a variety of assignments in the sales promotion, sales budget, organization and analysis and advertising sections. In 1960 I transferred to the Public Relations Department and eventually became the executive secretary to the director of public relations in 1972. I retired for the first time from Oldsmobile on August 31, 1987 after 45 years of service. I married William Earley in 1966. He passed away in 1984.
During those years I became Oldsmobile's resident historian. In that capacity I amassed thousands of documents about Olds and answered questions about Olds from you and others throughout the world. This was a marvelous assignment and I really enjoyed helping others in their quest for information. I met hundreds of fine people like you. I was a founding member of the task force to create the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum, on the board of the Detroit Public National Automotive History Collection, on the board of the Library and Research Center for the Antique Automobile Club of America and the Society of Automotive Historians. I received the prestigious James J. Bradley Award from the Society of Automotive Historians. This award recognized the "Outstanding contributions to the preservation of historical materials related to the automobiles produced by Oldsmobile and for the spirit of helpfulness to writers, researchers, historians and restorers". After retirement from Oldsmobile, I partnered with James Walkinshaw and formed Earley Enterprises and we were responsible for establishing and running the Oldsmobile History Center. We handled historical and restoration queries and maintained the historical library. I co-authored two books, Oldsmobile's Centennial book, Setting the Pace and Oldsmobile-A War Years Pictorial. I retired from the History Center in 2000. I am a member if the Sunrise Rotary Club. I read for WKAR radio, have been active with the Women's Hall of Fame, the Turner Dodge House, the Potter Park Zoo, all in Lansing and many other organizations. I am a member if three national Oldsmobile Car clubs and the local Oldsmobile Car club. For this I have been called "The First Lady of Oldsmobile" for which I am very proud. And so I leave this world and all of you. Although I will be physically missing, I will be present in all your hearts and memories forever. Thanks for the Memories! By the way, R.E. Olds and I will greet you up here when you arrive. Helen J. Earley. Funeral arrangements are being handled by Gorsline-Runciman; burial is at the family plot in Evergreen Cemetery. Donations may be made to the Capital Area District Library, Helen Earley Collection, 401 S. Capital Ave., Lansing 48933, Attn. Sue Hill; to the Michigan Women's Historical Center and Hall of Fame Helen Earley Section, 213 W. Main St., Lansing, MI 48933 or to the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum. a memory scrapbook is being complied by the Women's Hall of Fame.


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