William Clay Ford, the last surviving grandchild of Ford Motor Co. founder Henry Ford, died this morning. Ford, who was Director Emeritus of the company, was 88 years old.
“My father was a great business leader and humanitarian who dedicated his life to the company and the community,” said William Clay Ford, Jr., executive chairman, Ford Motor Co. “He also was a wonderful family man, a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him, yet he will continue to inspire us all.”
Ford served in a variety of capacities during his 57-year career at the Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker. He was named to the company’s board in 1948 and began working at the automaker after graduating from Yale in 1949.
Much of his time was spent in the design department at the company and in 1957 he was elected chairman of the Design Committee: a post he held for 32 years. He had input into the design of many of the company’s best-received products, including the Continental Mark II.
He was elected chairman of the Executive Committee in 1978 and appointed a member of the Office of the Chief Executive. He was elected vice chairman of the Board in 1980 and chairman of the Finance Committee in 1987. He retired from his post as vice chairman in 1989 and as chairman of the Finance Committee in 1995. He retired from the board and was named Director Emeritus on May 12, 2005.
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While Ford spent more than 50 years involved in the company, he may be equally as well known as the owner of the Detroit Lions. After becoming president of the team in 1961, he bought it in 1963 for $6 million. He’s been the team’s sole owner since then.
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Ford is survived by his wife of 66 years, Martha Firestone Ford, their four children, 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
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