Good news: Bob Sheaves

Many of you probably know that Bob Sheaves, AMC and Chrysler engineer emeritus, long-time industry consultant, Jeeper, and, for a while, part-time video-journalist, — a man of many talents held in high esteem by his colleagues — recently had a severe stroke. It hurt his ability to type and use phones, and was followed a few weeks later by another incident.

bob

Dozens of people wrote in to express concern and ask what they could do. People who had fought bitterly with him sent their best wishes and prayers.

This photo was taken recently from his current care facility. Perhaps it’s not the most flattering photo, but it shows that he’s on the mend, and he sent it with permission to share it publicly. It was very good news, though the photos of his dinner made me unaccountably hungry.

Bob was a suspension engineer back at AMC, one of the few people mentioned in a positive light in the 2000s book Common Sense. When we first started to correspond, for a long time, I wasn’t quite sure if he was for real; he sounded to good to be true. When he offered to meet me at the airport in Detroit, I admit to being somewhat afraid I’d find a hoaxster. He was for real — and I think he had the same fear that I wouldn’t be “real.”

In fact, Bob Sheaves is highly accomplished as both an engineer and as a CATIA and network user/programmer; he was a consultant — with a supercomputer in his office — after leaving Chrysler Corp. He’s been called in to rescue projects by numerous automakers, and not just consumer-level ones; trucks, buses, and military hardware are all within his purview.

Despite the value of his time and being able to turn away work, Bob spent the time – lots and lots of it – helping people understand the industry, with various levels of patience. He wrote several (at least) articles for Allpar, in detail, describing how things worked, and talked with me for hours to get my head straight. He always thought of automobiles and the design process as highly interlinked systems, where each part affected each other, and everything had an impact on everything else. Knowing this, some seemingly insane decisions by automakers became quite sensible. He understood tradeoffs, and he understood costs and benefits — again, at a systems level.

I hope many people will rejoice at seeing Bob like this — and knowing that he has turned the corner. I know I did — and I still do.