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Wilmer Cooksey, Jr., Bowling Green Corvette Assembly Plant Manager
Wilmer Cooksey was named plant manager of the world’s only Corvette plant in February of 1993. As a lifelong fan of the car, it was a dream job come true.
Born in Fort Worth, Texas, Cooksey received a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Tennessee State University in 1965. He earned a Master’s degree in industrial engineering from the University of Toledo in 1972 and completed postgraduate doctorate work in mechanical engineering at Michigan State University.
A Distinguished Graduate of the Officer’s Training School, Cooksey served as an executive officer in the U.S. Army Artillery, 1st Lieutenant. His last assignment was a year in Vietnam, where he was awarded the Bronze Star for his efforts.
Cooksey’s General Motors career is the epitome of achievement, beginning with his first job as an assistant professor in industrial engineering at GMI in Flint, Michigan. In 1976 he transferred to the St. Louis plant where he held several positions before being transferred to the Doraville plant in Atlanta, GA. After working at various superintendent positions at Doraville, he was named production manager at the Fairfax plant, the position he held until his current assignment as the plant manager of Bowling Green assembly plant. Under Cooksey’s direction, the Corvette has received numerous awards including “America’s Best Automobile of the Year” by Automobile Magazine, “Best Premium Sports Car” by J.D. Power, and "Best Sports Car" by Money Magazine. In May of 2002, the Bowling Green Assembly Plant was awarded two prestigious awards. J.D. Power & Associates named Corvette as “Best in Segment” for the second year in a row and recognized the assembly center as North America’s Silver Plant.
Cooksey takes an active role in the community. He currently serves on the boards of the National Corvette Museum, Greenview Hospital, Tennessee State University's Foundation Board of Trustees, Western Kentucky University School of Business Advisory Board, Western Kentucky University College of Education and Behavioral Science, Drug Abuse Resistance Education Advisory Council, and Advancing Minorities’ Interest in Engineering Executive Advisory Board. Cooksey serves as the General Motors Key Executive for Tennessee State University and the Key Organization Liaison for Career Communications.
In 1997 Cooksey received the “Black Engineer of the Year President’s Award.” In the same year, Austin Peay University named him “Achiever of the Year” in their Focus Program. Cooksey received a Presidential Citation from the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education in recognition of exemplary experience that honors Tennessee State University. He has been honored as an Outstanding Graduate of Tennessee State and named a “Black Achiever in Industry” by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Cooksey was presented a certificate from General Motors in recognition of his dedicated service to volunteer activities. Cooksey has been featured in numerous publications including Dollars & Sense Magazine, Contempora, African Americans on Wheels, Vette, Corvette Quarterly, and Corvette Fever magazines. General Motors selected Cooksey this year as a representative for ads in Ebony and Essence highlighting GM’s support in the area of diversity.
In his free time, Cooksey likes excitement. His hobbies include drag racing and flying airplanes. He resides in Bowling Green with his wife, Elizabeth, a professor at Western Kentucky University. They have two children, David and Crissy and three grandchildren, J.D., Katrina, and Kieara.
Will Cooksey is set to retire in March of 2008.
Related Video: Wil Cooksey Announces Retirement from General Motors
Below is a letter Wil wrote for the January 11, 2008 edition of the Bowling Green Assembly Plant's Performance Press:
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