Loren Jay (Larry) Tibbitts was born on January 14, 1938 in Riverside, CA, and passed away peacefully on August 31, 2019 in Grosse Pointe, MI, surrounded by family. Larry is survived by his wife of 54 years, Carole Cox Tibbitts, his son JC Tibbitts (Cassie), daughter Shelly Tucker (Peter), grandchildren Gabriela, Ethan, Sammy, Mason, Julia, Eleanor, and Piper. He is predeceased by his parents, Edith and John Tibbitts, his brother, Jim Tibbitts (2018), and his son, Marty Tibbitts (2018).
Larry was an adventurous child who demonstrated bravery and ingenuity from a young age. He learned Spanish on the school bus in elementary school, and soon was orchestrating Sacramento to Mexico City exchange programs for the whole town. He worked multiple jobs as a teenager and even made the local paper for protecting the till during an armed robbery at the pharmacy where he worked the night shift. He tried his hand at farm labor, and ultimately gravitated towards working on cars.
Larry earned a scholarship to study engineering at General Motors Institute (currently Kettering University), in Flint, MI while travelling back to California every 4 months to complete his work coop at a GM plant in LA. Larry saw great success in college, voted president of his fraternity, and honor society, as well as being chosen for a coveted GM sponsored Master’s degree at NC State.
Following his time in North Carolina, Larry returned to LA to continue his manufacturing work with GM and enrolled in USC’s Engineering PhD Program. Unfortunately, his doctoral studies were halted when he was drafted into the Army in the early days of the Vietnam War. While reticent to speak of his time working on the engineering of warfare, he had wonderful stories of that period, working off-base tending bar and teaching math at the community college, and most specially, meeting the love of his life, Carole Cox.
Carole and Larry were married in January of 1965, upon the completion of his military commitment and her graduation from college. They set out to Kansas City to continue his career in the automotive industry, and to start a family.
Larry’s career with General Motors spanned 3 decades, 4 states, and 2 countries. His keen attention to detail, integrity, work ethic, employee-centered management approach, and creative problem-solving became legendary and led to increasing responsibility within the company. He retired from GM as Plant Manager of the Detroit-Hamtramck Cadillac plant, in 1992. Following his departure from GM, he returned his focus to Mexico, as he had become renowned in international manufacturing, and US-Mexico cultural relations. He guided multiple American companies in establishing a presence in Mexico.
As an expert in new business and operations, Larry finished his career building a company in the communications industry, with his son Marty. He retired from this role in 2014.
Carole and Larry built a beautiful family with 3 children, and 7 grandchildren. In the early years, they enjoyed camping in Baja California, fishing in the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific, skiing in Tahoe, and hunting for antique bottles in the Mojave Desert. While living in Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico, they spent their weekends exploring Mexican towns, Mayan ruins, and the beach community in Padre Island, Texas. The last 37 years they made Grosse Pointe, Michigan their home and became integrally involved in the sailing community, the cultural community through the Detroit Institute of Arts, and competitive hockey leagues. Larry and Carole shared a love of international travel, boating, as well as his later passion for small aircraft and flying.
Larry was a member of several local clubs, and heavily involved in building the boating and sailing programs in the area. He was a past member at the Detroit Athletic Club, the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, The Old Club, and the Grosse Pointe Club, where he served as Commodore.
Larry’s family would like all donations to be directed to the Alzheimer’s Association to further research on the disease that claimed his life. We will celebrate Larry’s life from 1:00 pm until the time of the service from 2 pm to 3 pm, on September 21, 2019 at Verheyden Funeral Home at 16300 Mack Ave, Grosse Pointe Park, MI 48230.