Dave Cutler was reared on adversity. He learned at a young age to care for himself, to keep his own counsel, to find a way around or through the obstacles in his path.
He was born on March 13, 1942, in Lansing, the state capital of Michigan. Lansing was auto country, home to a slew of car and car-parts makers. His father, Neil, worked in Lansing’s Oldsmobile plant for nearly his entire life, first in the plant’s shipping department and then as a janitor.
Neil Cutler was an intelligent and exacting man, but he was quiet and lacked ambition. He had been stricken with rheumatic fever as a boy, and it had left him too frail to play sports. Poor eyesight made it difficult for him to enjoy the outdoors. A certain bitterness crept ...