William Clay Ford Sr. remembered for 57-12 months legacy at Ford Motor

William Clay Ford Sr., the father of present executive chairman William Clay Ford Jr., joined the business board of directors in 1948.

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Automotive Information
March 10, 2014 – twelve:01 am ET — Up to date: 3/10/14 3:14 pm ET – adds information

DETROIT — William Clay Ford Sr., who took driving lessons at age 10 from his grandfather Henry Ford and as soon as flew with legendary aviator Charles Lindbergh, is becoming remembered for helping steer Ford Motor Co. for more than 57 many years.

The former firm vice chairman and Henry Ford’;s final surviving grandson died Sunday of pneumonia at age 88 at his property in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich., the automaker stated in a statement.

Ford, the father of current executive chairman William Clay Ford Jr., joined the company’;s board of directors in 1948. He was 23 at the time.

He took a job with the automaker the subsequent yr, the begin of a profession that ended with his retirement from Ford’s board in 2005. Many of his roles had been in organizing and approach. He chaired the company’;s Style Committee for 32 many years.

On the board of directors, Ford had prolonged been a member of the strong Finance Committee. He was chairman of the committee from 1987 by way of 1995. The Finance Committee decides how the automaker allocates capital and other funds, offering it manage above which solution applications are authorized.

William Clay Ford Sr. was born in Detroit on March 14, 1925, the youngest of the 4 youngsters of Eleanor Clay and Edsel Ford, Henry Ford’s only child. Benson Ford died in 1978 Henry Ford II, longtime CEO and chairman of the firm, died in 1987 and Josephine Ford died in 2005.

He attended Detroit University School in Grosse Pointe, Mich., and Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn., according to a company biography. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy’s Air Corps in 1943 and was in flight instruction when he was discharged 2 years later on at the end of World War II.

In 1947 he married the former Martha Firestone, whose grandfather, Harvey, had founded the Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. and was pals with Henry Ford. They had 3 daughters and a single son.

Ford graduated from Yale University in 1949 with a degree in economics, then joined Ford Motor’s revenue and marketing staff. In 1951 he grew to become quality-control manager for the Lincoln-Mercury Division’s jet-engine defense venture.

Time magazine put Ford and his 2 brothers on its May 18, 1953, cover, with Henry Ford II, the company’s president, at the wheel of a convertible.

‘Handsome, athletic, charming’;

William Clay Ford “was handsome, athletic, charming and, unlike [brother] Benson, showed some flair for the firm enterprise, both in layout and finance,” Automotive Information wrote in a 2003 retrospective that addressed Henry Ford II’s increased rank amid the siblings.

Bill Ford was produced basic manager of the Continental Division in 1954.

The 2-door Continental Mark II was the most pricey car sold by the firm. It also lost cash, and strategies to broaden the lineup have been abandoned. In excess of Bill Ford’s objections, the division was folded into Lincoln shortly soon after the company’s initial public giving in 1956.

“Just as Ford stock was currently being sold to the public, and the business was getting reorganized along the lines of GM so that it was no longer a family members enterprise in the exact same sense that it had been for more than a half century, the family drama involving the isolation of Benson and Bill reached its denouement,” authors Peter Collier and David Horowitz wrote in their 1987 guide, The Fords: An American Epic.

“Bill, the family’s substantial achiever, began a long night of the soul in which he would test his decrease limits.”

He was also proprietor of the NFL’;s Detroit Lions right after buying complete management of the franchise for $ 4.5 million in 1964. The Lions mentioned Monday that ownership of the staff will transfer to Martha Ford, 88, and William Clay Ford Jr. would remain vice chairman.

“Pursuant to extended-established succession plans, Mr. Ford’s controlling curiosity in the Lions passes to Mrs. Martha Ford. She and her 4 young children will carry on to be involved in the ownership of the franchise, as they have throughout Mr. Ford’s tenure,” the Lions explained.

Surviving loved ones

In addition to his son, Ford also is survived by his wife of 66 many years, Martha Firestone Ford daughters Martha Ford Morse, Sheila Ford Hamp, and Elizabeth Ford Kontulis 14 grandchildren and 2 excellent-grandchildren.

William Clay Ford Jr., left, with his father at Ford Motor Co.’;s annual shareholders meeting in 2003.

Photo credit score: Bloomberg

“My father was a fantastic company leader and humanitarian who dedicated his lifestyle to the firm and the community,” William Clay Ford Jr. mentioned in a statement. “He also was a fantastic loved ones man, a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He will be drastically missed by every person who knew him, yet he will proceed to inspire us all.”

Ford CEO Alan Mulally explained in the statement: “Mr. Ford had a profound affect on Ford Motor Company. The organization extends its deepest sympathies to the numerous members of the extended Ford family at this difficult time. Whilst we mourn Mr. Ford’s death, we also are grateful for his a lot of contributions to the firm and the automobile sector.”

‘Eye for styling’;

The 1987 death of his older brother, Henry II, manufactured William Sr. the family patriarch, and he would help preside over family meetings to check company finances.

Nick Scheele, a former Ford Motor president and former CEO of Jaguar Automobiles, said William Sr. was a single of the key supporters of Ford’;s 1990 buy of Jaguar, the British sports activities-car maker, and appreciated fine European design and style.

“You could see it in his Continental Mark II,” Scheele explained. “He had a fantastic eye for styling.”

In 1999, William Sr. noticed his son, Bill, turn out to be chairman. 2 many years later on, directors ousted Jacques Nasser as CEO and Bill took more than. As CEO, Bill would oversee 2 restructuring programs. In 2006, in the midst of a business-record $ 12.6 billion loss, he yielded that submit to Mulally, who led a turnaround that restored income.

William Sr. shunned the spotlight, but at times talked about his grandfather providing him his initial driving lesson at age 10 — they had been going 70 miles per hour with young William in Henry’;s lap when a policeman stopped them.


As head of the Continental Division from 1954-56, William Clay Ford led improvement of the 1956 Continental Mark II, successor to the classic Lincoln Continental designed underneath the path of his father, Edsel Ford.

He hardly ever spoke publicly but was reflective during celebrations marking the company’;s centennial in 2003.

At the company’;s annual shareholder meeting that yr, he informed stories about his grandfather teaching him to drive at age 10, and of currently being taken for his initial airplane ride in a Ford Tri-Motor by Charles Lindbergh.

“I just want you to know that we have great pride in the Ford title,” he told Ford shareholders at the meeting. “We have a spirit of operating together, and we have a passion for autos. And we also have a great desire to see the Ford title in the forefront of globe transportation.”

Private services

Funeral companies will be held privately. He would have marked his 89th birthday on Friday, March 14.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may possibly be sent in the title of William Clay Ford to the Henry Ford Museum at 20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn, MI 48124 or to Dr. Scott Dulchavsky’s Innovation Institute at Henry Ford Health Method, 2799 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit, MI 48045.

Ford stated firm spots in the United States will decrease their American and Ford flags to half-personnel for a 30-day period.

Bloomberg and Reuters contributed to this report.

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