It is with a heavy heart that I report that long-time friend of SaabsUnited, Jan-Willem Vester, has passed away from a rather lengthy illness. Thanks to Peter Backstrom from the Saab Museum for passing the information along via Twitter.
Jan-Willem was a very outgoing, gracious Dutchman that had a true affinity for Saabs. In fact, he drove a Saab 900 convertible nearly identical to the one that I now own. It was fitting that he made his living as a public relations and marketing professional in the Saab USA headquarters in Detroit. Mr. Vester left Saab USA as part of the cuts that were being made right across GM as the crisis in the car industry gathered momentum. Unfortunately, he discovered his illness near that time and spent most of his efforts from then on fighting to beat it.
He will be missed, for he was one of the good guys in the fight to keep Saab what it should be.
Swade’s post at Mr. Vester’s departure from Saab USA is re-printed after the jump.
Reprinted from April 28, 2009 on SaabsUnited:
I heard some sad news today.
Apparently SaabUSA’s long-time communications and PR guru, Jan-Willem Vester, suffered the knife in GM’s latest round of redundancies and finished his GM career around 10 days ago.
Jan-Willem helps Gunnar Heinrich from Automobiles DeLuxe get around Beantown in the Turbo X.
This tall, friendly Dutchman was the first official Saab contact I made when I started Trollhattan Saab and I was fortunate enough to have many communiques with him over the years and meet him in person in Detroit last year.
Things cooled a little between myself and JWV since that time. I’m sure I got up his nose a little due to my constant criticism of General Motors and not-quite-so-constant-but-still-consistent criticism of some of the decisions coming from SaabUSA. I got frustrated because Jan-Willem was exactly what he was employed to be, a truly loyal soldier, who served his employer extremely well.
Hopefully he understood my heart, however, and that I was writing from a pure place.
I have nothing but admiration and respect for Jan-Willem. He was the textbook company man and in an industry with it’s fair share of sharks, he has always been an absolute gentleman.
Jan-Willem didn’t just work for Saab. He owned a 9-5 wagon in the US and his family were keeping a classic Saab 900 warm for him back in his native Holland. And just to show he’s got some serious driving skillz, too, he also had an award winning Porsche 911 in the garage.
I’ve entitled this post bye-for-now as it’s my sincere hope that Jan-Willem can get his family out of Detroit, get some serious sunshine and get back in the Saab fold when they emerge from GM ownership in the near future. There’s not many people in the US who know more about Saab than him, and Saab would be foolish to let him slip through the net.
Jan-Willem, my best wishes to you and your family for a happy and healthy break. I hope you’re not idle for too long (I’m quite sure you won’t be) and I look forward to seeing your name on the bottom of some fresh press releases, hopefully in management of a new Saab Cars USA, sometime in the near future.