ESD Co-Director Skiven Dead At 64

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SOUTHFIELD — The Engineering Society of Detroit Friday announced the death of its co-director, David A. Skiven.

Skiven, 64, died at 6 p.m. Nov. 16 after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was surrounded by family and friends at his home in Brighton.

“Every association and every board has a person or two that essentially becomes the face or persona of the organization. Dave Skiven was indeed that persona and embodiment of the spirit of the Engineering Society of Detroit,” said Terry J. Woychowski, president of ESD’s board of directors and vice president of global quality and vehicle launches at General Motors. “He was a most valued leader, member and friend of ESD, and he will be greatly missed. His influence will continue to impact our organization for a long time through all of the excellent programs and directions he has helped forge at the ESD.”

A pillar of Michigan, a visionary and a champion for change, Skiven dedicated 42 years of his career to the service of General Motors, serving as executive director of GM’s Worldwide Facilities Group. In that role, Skiven was in charge of utilities, capital construction and environmental segments. The result of the single facilities management approach was significant structural cost savings, improved utilization of corporate assets and development of a talented global organization.

For his work at GM, Skiven was elected to the General Motors Environmental and Energy wall of fame in 2008 as its first recipient.

Following his retirement from General Motors in 2008, Skiven dedicated the rest of his career to the voluntary service of ESD as the co-founder and co-director of its Institute. In that role, he focused on ways to rebuild Michigan’s economy through high-level symposia focused on critical issues, such as energy, water, construction productivity, healthcare, education, and more.

As a result of his work, the ESD Institute has been able to bring together unifiers and enablers, build consensus and promote new initiatives to solve Michigan’s dire problems. For his dedication to ESDI, Skiven was honored with induction into the ESD College of Fellows and awarded ESD’s highest honor, the Horace H. Rackham Humanitarian Award.

“Working with Dave enlarged you. He did it by example. He was a coach, a player, an owner and a spectator — all in one person,” said Christopher J. Webb, co-director of ESDI. “Selflessly, he did whatever it took to bring out your best. That was his magic.”

Skiven earned a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from General Motors Institute (now Kettering University) and a master’s of science degree from Wayne State University. In 2002 he was inducted into Wayne State University College of Engineering Hall of Fame.  He served as a frequent advisor to a number of federal facilities organizations including the United States Navy and the U.S. Air Force. He was also a board member of the National Academies in Washington, DC.

Skiven is survived by Karen, his beloved wife of 42 years; children, Keith (Lisa), Kyle (Quynh); sister, Carol (Bruce) Butske; nephew, Bill (Tuli) Butske with children, Ava & Sonia; sister-in-law, Cheryl (Jim) DeLange; father-in-law, Steve Godra.

Funeral services were held Saturday. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions are encouraged to the David A. Skiven Leadership Fund, with checks made payable to the Engineering Society of Detroit.

For more information, contact ESD at (248) 353-0735.

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