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Saturn President Suffers Cardiac Arrest

January 25, 1985

LANSING, Mich. (AP) _ Joseph Sanchez, who landed General Motors Corp.’s most important new job two weeks ago as head of the Saturn car project, suffered cardiac arrest Friday, and a hospital listed his prognosis as ″grave.″

Sanchez, 54, who speaks three languages and has been described as one of GM’s most talented executives, was stricken before dawn in the hospital, where had been since a heart attack Tuesday.

″He has been successfully resuscitated, but is now in critical condition and his prognosis is considered grave,″ said Carol Schwing, a spokeswoman at E.W. Sparrow Hospital.

GM directors tapped the tall New York City native on Jan. 7 to run Saturn Corp., a new subsidiary created to take on the most ambitious car project in the history of the world’s largest automaker.

Since April 1983, Sanchez was general manager of GM’s Oldsmobile division based in Lansing. The Sanchez family home is in East Lansing.

″This is really a shock. He has been a great executive, great with people - a really bright guy,″ said Phil Workman, an Oldsmobile spokesman who had worked closely with Sanchez until the Saturn appointment.

Workman said he was not aware of Sanchez having had previous heart problems.

In the seven years before his Oldsmobile apppointment, Sanchez headed GM of Brazil. In 1980, GM of Uruguay was added to his duties.

Sanchez was born in Manhattan and received a bachelor’s degree from the City College of New York. After two years in the Air Force, Sanchez, fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, was hired by GM in 1954 in the foreign distribution office in New York.

He also held posts in Chile, Panama, Venezuela and Argentina.

Saturn is GM’s plan to totally rework the way cars are made.

The plan to build a futuristic carmaking complex has been the subject of heated competition from areas trying to land it and the 6,000 jobs it will create. Until this week, Sanchez had been leading many of those meetings, as well as presiding over the elaborate Saturn scheme.

Stan Hall, a spokesman at GM headquarters in Detroit, said Sanchez’s illness was ″a terrible shock to everybody on the Saturn team ... But we’ve got to continue - we’ve got to go on with our job.″

Hall said Saturn operations were being run by Reid Rundell, the executive vice president for strategic business planning who has worked on the project for three years.

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