Celebrated philanthropist, beloved father of four, owner of the Detroit Lions and grandson of Henry Ford, William Clay Ford died Sunday of pneumonia.
William Clay Ford, being a younger son and grandson, was not chosen to become Ford’s company heir, and rather took over the family business, served as a Ford executive and linked his life to the Detroit Lions club.
“My father was a great business leader and humanitarian who dedicated his life to the company and the community,” said Bill Ford Jr., one of Ford’s four children and executive chairman of the automaker and vice chairman of the Lions. “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.”
A celebrated businessman and football fan, Ford was also a big philanthropist – chairman of the board of trustees of the Henry Ford Museum from 1951-83, an honorary life trustee of the Eisenhower Medical Center, a national trustee for the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs of America, an honorary chair of the United Way for Southeastern Michigan and on the Texas Heart Institute National Advisory Council.
“Mr. Ford had a profound impact on Ford Motor Company,” Ford’s CEO Mulally said Sunday. “While we mourn Mr. Ford’s death, we also are grateful for his many contributions to the company and the auto industry.”
Ford was born in 1925, the youngest of Edsel Ford’s four children, married Martha Firestone in 1947 and had four children of its own: Martha, Sheila, Elizabeth and William Clay Ford Jr., better known as Bill. He retired from Ford’s supervisory board in 2005, when his son Bill was still chairman and CEO.