It was typical of Stan Drall. Even at 87, he still was working – as a volunteer at the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, MI, in the shadow of theMotor Co. where he spent 53 years before retiring in 1995.
Drall died on Aug. 26, a month after he suffered a stroke. Until then, he continued to serve as a “greeter” at the hall, the guy with the ever-present smile who not only knew automotive history in great detail, but also had lived it.
When he left, he was the last employee to have had a direct link with the founder himself, Henry Ford. Drall was hired out of high school in 1942 and shortly worked his way up as a typist in Ford’s executive offices, where he saw and often spoke with “Mr. Ford,” his son Edsel and other executives on a daily basis.
He joined the Army during World War II, came home and attended the University of Michigan, then rejoined the company in its fledgling public-relations department where he toiled until his retirement.
Drall wasn’t your typical PR type, however. Mike Davis, a retired Ford PR executive, says Drall was “a fixer. He took care of a lot of little things involving celebrities and the media. He did a lot of horse trading, like getting Ford cars in the movies. He was the perfect guy for it.”
Drall was the guy you came to at Ford when you needed vehicles for a variety of purposes, whether it was a fussy celebrity, a dignitary or a demanding Ford executive. “Stan was a man of infinite patience,” says Davis. “He just rolled along with the punches.”
An avid sports enthusiast, Drall was a fixture at Detroit Tigers baseball games and University of Michigan football games. Then-Ford President Lee Iacocca assigned Drall to be the planner for Al Kaline Day at Tiger Stadium in 1970.
In his later years at Ford, he commanded its huge fleet of promotional and press-relations cars and trucks. From his command post on the fourth floor of Ford headquarters, he could look out at a sea of vehicles. To help identify which one he wanted he’d scan the scene with his binoculars.
Drall is survived by his wife, Carole; his daughter Deborah; stepdaughters Vicki Simons and Pamela Sweeney; three grandchildren and one great-grandchild.