William Clay Ford’s Legacy Cemented Family’s Dynasty


William Clay Ford Sr., Henry Ford’s final surviving grandson, who died Sunday at age 88, shared his father Edsel’s flair for layout, overseeing the style route for some of Ford Motor Ford Motor’s best-acknowledged cars for decades, including his pet task, the 1956 Continental Continental Mark II, a single of the most iconic automobiles ever constructed.

His most lasting result on the carmaker, nevertheless, may possibly have been his stubborn insistence that the family not give up control of the organization when it went public in 1956. By demanding that the loved ones retain forty % of the voting rights by way of a particular class of stock, Bill Ford ensured the family’s influence in excess of his grandfather’s company would be sustained by way of a number of generations.

Nowadays, the extended Ford family’s 70,852,076 Class B shares, really worth an estimated $ 1.1 billion, signify significantly less than 2 percent of Ford Motor’s excellent stock. Bill Ford, who also owned the Detroit Lions, had an estimated net really worth of $ one.35 billion, in accordance to Forbes’ newly released 2014 Billionaires checklist.

He was the father of Ford Motor’s recent executive chairman, William Clay Ford Jr. The elder Ford is also survived by his wife of 66 years, Martha Firestone Ford daughters Martha Ford Morse, Sheila Ford Hamp, and Elizabeth Ford Kontulis, 14 grandchildren and 2 wonderful-grandchildren.

 said Bill Ford, Jr. “He also was a great loved ones man, a loving husband, father, grandfather and wonderful-grandfather. He will be significantly missed by every person who knew him, nevertheless he will carry on to inspire us all.”

“Mr. Ford had a profound affect on Ford Motor Firm,” explained Alan Mulally, Ford president and CEO. “The company extends its deepest sympathies to the several members of the extended Ford household at this difficult time. While we mourn Mr. Ford’s death, we also are grateful for his several contributions to the company and the auto sector.”

Born in Detroit on March 14, 1925, William Clay Ford was the youngest of 4 kids born to Henry Ford’s son, Edsel, and his wife, Eleanor. As a boy, Bill liked to sit at a desk beside his designer father, painting watercolors of fine cars. He was specifically close to his well-known grandfather, who taught him to drive at age 10 and who when disappeared for the duration of a family Christmas party to shoot paper targets out the window with youthful Bill.

William Clay Ford at Detroit Tigers game

Edsel, Henry and William Ford at a Detroit Tigers game

Witty, charming and athletic, Bill attended personal school in Grosse Pointe, Mich., and prep school in Connecticut. Right after naval flight education at the University of Michigan, he enrolled at Yale University, where he captained the varsity soccer and tennis teams, earning 7 varsity letters, and graduated in 1949 with a bachelor of science degree in economics.

William Clay Ford on the test track

Younger Bill Ford on the company’s test track

Even just before he graduated, Bill Ford was elected to the company’s board of directors in 1948, embarking on a Ford occupation that would span a lot more than 6 decades, providing a stabilizing influence on the company’s board of directors, including 8 years as head of the company’s powerful finance committee and 9 many years as vice chairman.

In 1952, he took on his dream assignment as manager of a special group of engineers and designers building a luxury halo automobile, the Continental Mark II, a successor to the traditional Lincoln Continental designed underneath the route of his father, Edsel Ford. He took care to make sure the automobile followed the types of the unique Continental – matching the ratio of window glass to sheet metal, recreating the intimate truly feel of the interior controls, and mounting the spare tire within an impression in the sheet metal of the trunk, recalling the original Continental’s outdoors-mounted spare tire. “I wished the spare tire in the back. That was the trademark of a Continental,” he explained in an interview with the Henry Ford Museum a couple of years in the past.

Even though he usually operated in the shadow of his older brother, Henry II (“Hank the Deuce”), who ran the organization from 1945 to 1979, Bill exerted his influence when it came to the touchy topic of no matter whether to go public in 1956.

Bill was strongly opposed to the notion of marketing stock in the business, but his brother, as chief executive, was in favor. Pressure to promote was coming from the independent Ford Basis, which owned 88 % of the shares dating back to the mid 1930s, when Henry I and Edsel set up the charity to keep away from saddling their heirs with hundreds of hundreds of thousands in estate taxes.

“If it ain’t broke, really don’;t correct it,” Bill argued, in accordance to “The Fords: An American Epic” by Peter Collier and David Horowitz. But his brother, he stated, “was living it up and often strapped for money. He always essential far more income than the dividends gave him. He was for going public because it would permit him to increase money by selling his stock in the open marketplace.”

In the course of heated loved ones discussions, a deal was finally reached that would allow the family members to maintain 25 percent ownership. But at the eleventh hour, Bill objected, telling his annoyed brother: “I really do not feel 25 % is enough….Forty percent is greater handle.

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