Making a life: Leroy Richie retains humility amid a career of firsts

Leroy Richie’s career has been full of firsts.

He was the first black vice president and general counsel at Chrysler Corp., first black general counsel for the U.S. Golf Association, first black person admitted to the Bloomfield Hills Country Club, the first in his family to graduate from college.

But those aren’t the things that stand out to former colleagues. Rather, it’s his humor, humility and helping hand that come to mind.

“He wasn’t a guy who said, ‘Look at me, I’ve done this or done that.’ He always carried himself with a great deal of humility and took the time to mentor and give advice to people like me,” said Michael Jessamy, director of labor relations and medical operations for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US LLC.

Richie, 74, will be honored by Crain’s Detroit Business on May 17 as the lifetime achievement award winner during the General and In-house Counsel Awards. Richie’s name was among those submitted to Crain’s and vetted by a group of in-house attorneys and executives. His legal, corporate and community impact were all key to making the decision. Richie’s firsts were a factor as were his roles on numerous corporate and nonprofit boards, including the Detroit Public Schools Foundation, which he co-founded.

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