United Way of SE Michigan chair: Sergio Marchionne will live forever because of his service

- Known to many as the CEO of Fiat Chrysler and president of Ferrari, to the folks at United Way for southeastern Michigan, Sergio Marchionne was known as a simple man with a passion for giving back.

"He specifically said that it was our obligation and our duty to serve others and when we lose that obligation and duty to others, we lose our humanity," said Mark Petroff, chairman of United Way for Southeast Michigan.

Those working with Sergio Marchionne at United Way say he went all in, always.

"He just made the mission of the United Way and the mission of our campaign cabinet more than just going out and raising money," Mark said.

Volunteering his time and talents, Marchionne helped United Way with its funding campaigns beginning in 2012 and again from 2016 to 2018, meeting with Chairman Mark Petroff and the organizations director of labor participation, Tiffany Bush, regularly.

"He knew he was blessed and he knew that there were people who were not and it seemed to hurt him that he just couldn't fix it for everybody," Tiffany said.

They both say Marchionne's passion for giving back was innate.

"He sent me a letter when he asked me to join the campaign cabinet, literally quoting a Greek philosopher," Tiffany said. "And the quote that he quoted was "What you leave behind is not waht is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others' and that thought will stay with me forever."

Though the powerful executive often meant business... not always. They say he was really approachable and easy going, with the driest, most witty and thoughtful sense of humor.

"He was all for the selfies," Tiffany said.

Oh, and those black sweaters.

"He wore a black sweater everywhere he went," Mark said. He said the first time he met with Sergio, he was suited up. But he started to realize this guy is pretty laid back, so he started wearing sweaters.

"(He) said to my wife 'He looks pretty good in that sweater, he should keep it up,'" Mark said.

Though his legacy may be defined by his work in the automotive industry, those with United Way say his legacy, his impact goes far beyond that.

"I think Sergio will live forever because his service, his commitment waswoven into every one of our lives throughout the community," Mark said.

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