Louann VanDerWiele, Grosse Pointe Shores, Louann Van Der Wiele passed away on April 29, 2022 at the age of 68.
She is survived by her husband of 33 years, James "Jim" Martin, stepchildren Heidi Martin and Andrew (Jenni) Martin. Louann is also survived by her parents Sam and Mary Van Der Wiele, as well as brothers David (Ruth), John (Laurel) and Bob (Kim) Van Der Wiele, 2 nieces, 1 grandnephew and 2 grandnieces. Louann was born on October 24, 1954 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She graduated from Wayne State University and earned her law degree at Wayne State University. Louann retired as Vice President, Associate General Counsel of Chrysler and successor companies in 2017. She is also survived by her loving dog Sophie.
People will be gathering at Verheyden Funeral Home Grosse Pointe at 12:30 pm, followed by a service at 1:30 pm on Wednesday, May 18, 2022. There will be a reception following the service at the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club from 3:00-6:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions to the Michigan Humane Society are appreciated.
3 people have supported the family by purchasing them flowers or gifts from the Healing Registry.
I had the pleasure and privilege of working with, and for, Louann at Chrysler for nine years. During that time, Louann was a trusted mentor and, more importantly, a valued friend.
As a lawyer in his first in-house job, I learned a lot from Louann, and the lessons have guided my practice since. Along with Ken Gluckman, Louann was the animating force behind the most successful national coordinating counsel program I have ever experienced. The success of the Chrysler Tier 1 counsel program derived not just from the quality of the external lawyers, but from the respect and fairness they received from Louann. Many of those lawyers remain my friends and colleagues today. Also, in my practice I still find myself using sayings from Louann. Just yesterday, at a mediation in Atlanta, I smiled secretly to myself as I announced to everyone, "Cases settle when defendants stop offering money!"
Over the years I have also been the fortunate recipient of many acts of kindness from Louann. When Debbie and I were married on the shores of Lake Huron in 2002, everyone toasted us by raising champagne flutes that were kindly loaned to us by Louann. We also have great memories of her and Jim taking us and our children for their first boat ride, on Lake St. Clair.
Louann touched so many lives. Jim and family, please accept our heartfelt and deepest condolences.
- Greg Schuetz and Deborah Nico (and Samantha and Charlie)
Louann was a strong leader and practical yet brilliant lawyer. She provided me many professional opportunities and genuinely —in her own unique Louann fashion— provided support and clear direction. I will never forget the opportunity she provided for me to work part time as a mother. Many were surprised that she was my champion in that as wasn’t her path — yet as a leader she recognized the value in it and followed through (as Louann always did). I was so honored with her support in that and other professional moments. It was a privilege to know her and work with and for her and I’m grateful for her professionalism and deep commitment to ethics and to the others she worked with. I also greatly enjoyed our sushi lunches together and the gracious and fun holiday parties at her home. She was unique and memorable and made her mark and will be missed. My deepest sympathies to Jim and the family. May her memory be a blessing!
I too was on the opposite side of Louann for three decades. Her grace, compassion, wisdom, and honesty were rare traits that were refreshing, effective, and most importantly, successful. Her smile is missed, but the memories will always remain.
Jim and Family -
Louann had a larger than life personality and made everyone around her better. I worked with — ok, for — Louann for 20+ years and will be forever grateful for her guidance, leadership and trust. She exhibited that leadership to Cheryl Bush, myself and Ray (now Judge) Kethledge. In 2003, when we formed our firm. Louann was the center-post in the BSK Law tent. 20 years later, BSP Law is still at it, in large part because of her guidance and trust.
Having worked and travelled with Louann to Mexico City, multiple states and Europe, there are many memories about cases, judges and trials. But that’s not what stands out. For Louann always knew how to separate the profession from the person. She had a PHD in dealing with both.
If I had to pick 2 words to best describe Louann— impossible I realize — it’s character and kindness. The Tim McGraw lyrics to ‘Humble and Kind’ perhaps sum it up best: ‘when you get where you’re going don’t forget to turn back around and help the next one in line…always stay humble and kind’. Although she achieved the highest ranks in a profession dominated by men, Louann NEVER forgot to ‘turn around’. Instead, the essence of her very being was to do just that.
Jim and family, please accept our heartfelt condolences. May Louann Rest In Peace. God bless.
Patrick and Sandi Seyferth
Jim and family,
Karen and I were both surprised and saddened to hear of Louann’s passing. She was a special person deserving of all the comments I am reading in the Tributes.
As outside counsel to Chrysler for many years I often worked with Louann to resolve cases against Chrysler in the West. I always valued the very good working relationship I had with Louann. When I retired 16 years ago my long business relationship with Chrysler and with Louann came to an end. Fortunately, the friendship with Louann and you, Jim, continued with the PLEA ski trips. Being with you and Louann in a purely social setting, unrestricted by business considerations, certainly created some fond memories. We have missed seeing you both in recent years.
I have read what Russ Reiner, a lawyer who I know and respect has said in his Tribute. Russ, and others writing these Tributes, could not have captured Louann’s approach to dealing with litigation and all participants any better. Her ability as a lawyer and a company representative to do the best for her client while at the same time earning the respect of opposing counsel and their clients, was truly remarkable and rewarding to all involved.
I remember sitting around with Louann in meetings, in mediations, or while waiting for something to happen in court, and just chatting about whatever came to mind. Those moments are far more telling about a person than pure business conversations or interactions. As I have been writing this Tribute to Louann a few of those casual conversations have come to mind, making me smile and remember how lucky so many of us were to know her..
Peace to all,
I was very much saddened to learn of Louann’s passing. I had the good fortune to work as Louann’s legal assistant for seven years at Chrysler. Her knowledge and dedication to her job were outstanding. I learned a lot under her guidance and leadership, and she always expressed an appreciation for my work effort. When celebrating special events in the office, we made it a point to save an end piece of the “Costco” cake with the most icing for Louann. Some very good memories indeed. My deepest sympathy to Jim and family.
Louann was one of the best clients I ever had the privilege to work with. But more than a client, I have counted her as a friend. Her ability to work with everyone involved in a case was legendary, and worked to everyone's advantage. I will always be grateful for the opportunities she provided to me, and the trust that she showed to me as well. To Jim and the family, my deepest condolences. Peace be with you.
I have known Louann for more than 30 years and consider her one of my closest friends over that period of time. Although she always represented the automaker I was suing on behalf of someone who claims to have been injured by a vehicle sold by Louann'[s client, It never, ever was an impediment to our friendship.
Also I would like to comment on her trustworthiness. When we would be in a lengthy one month trial we would sometimes have lunch together. During those lunches we would make agreements possibly involving hundreds of thousands of dollars. Not once would we ever need to confirm anything in writing. We trusted each other.
And her sense of humor and humility was the best ever. I can't describe how awful I felt when I learned she was no longer with us. But those memories will be with me forever!!!
I had the privilege of working with Louann for most of my legal career. She was an excellent attorney and colleague and was a pleasure to work with. She opened doors for so many women, especially in the automotive litigation field. She will be greatly missed.
Jeffrey Chase. May 4,2022
I am a defense attorney who had the privilege of working with Louann from her early days at Chrysler until her retirement. She was always a pleasure to work with, and was smart, tough, and well prepared. She provided hands-on guidance and was always an integral part of the defense efforts. Besides her unique abilities as an attorney, she was a joy to work with, and was a kind & understanding colleague, who will be missed. Rest In Peace, Louann.
My name is Russell Reiner and Attorney in California. I had many jeep CJ f5and CJ 7 cases where Louann represented Chrysler. Bruce Wold was the attorney who also represented Chrysler. Every case we resolved with Louann was a tragic case involving a very serious injury or death. Louann was always very kind to those who were injured and family members of those who died. Louann in my experience was a very rare individual who had the capacity to reach the hearts and minds of my clients even though she was Chrysler‘s representative. Louann made our legal world a much more civil place to work.
My name is Todd Tracy and I am a Plaintiff attorney out of Dallas,Texas, that worked on cases against LouAnn for years. LouAnn taught me to listen, see both sides of a case and to value professional relationships. LouAnn embodied the best of the legal system: empathy, respect, and fairness. You should know that when I told other lawyers around the country that LouAnn had passed away, there was universal agreement that Lou Ann was simply the best. You should also know that one of Lou Ann's former associates is teaching the "LouAnn Way" to a new generation of attorneys for a major vehicle manufacturer. I am a better attorney, husband and father because of life skills LouAnn instilled in me during our long talks. I hope you find comfort and solace in the days ahead. Sincerely, Todd Tracy
Don & I send our deepest sympathy to you and all of Louann's family. I have lots of great memories of Louann......Euchre (where we beat the guys!), dinners/barbeques at your house and our house, Beautiful Christmas parties, and HUGH TRAY FILLED WITH HOMEMADE COOKIES AT CHRISTMAS WITH BAGS TO TAKE SOME HOME! We were so surprised to hear about Louann's passing because Don just saw you at Kroger's a while ago and you & Louann were heading west to visit Andy. Hope to see you on the 18th! If we can do anything for you just call! Love, Carol
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