William Clay Ford, who helped steer Ford Motor Company into the modern era as an employee, director and influential member of the Ford family, died Sunday morning at his home from pneumonia.
Mr. Ford, 88, served as Director Emeritus, Ford Motor Company and was the last surviving grandchild of the company’s founder, Henry Ford.
In a press release, Ford Motor Company states that Mr. Ford served Ford Motor Company for 57 years as an employee and board member, playing a pivotal role in shaping the company for more than half of its 110-year history. He was elected to the Board of Directors on June 4, 1948, and began his employment with the company after graduating from Yale University in 1949. In 1957 he was elected chairman of the Design Committee, a post he held for 32 years.
Throughout his career, he was instrumental in setting the company’s design direction, overseeing the development of a number of classic vehicles, including the Continental Mark II, considered by many to be one of the most iconic cars ever built.
Detroit Lions team owner
Mr. Ford was owner of the Detroit Lions football team. Ford purchased the Detroit Lions in 1963 for a reported $4.5 million.
Mr. Ford is survived by his wife of 66 years, Martha Firestone Ford; daughters Martha Ford Morse (Peter), Sheila Ford Hamp (Steven), and Elizabeth Ford Kontulis (Charles); son William Clay Ford, Jr. (Lisa); 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
In honor of Mr. Ford’s memory, Ford Motor Company locations in the U.S. will lower their American and Ford flags to half-staff for a 30-day period. Ford locations outside of the U.S. will follow local custom.