The founder of the Ford Motor Co. has died at age 88. William Clay Ford, grandson of automotive pioneer Henry Ford, and owner of the Detroit Lions, died of pneumonia at his home in Michigan. He served on the board of the Ford Motor Company for more than five decades after joining the family business in 1948, when his grandfather Henry Ford passed away.
He was known as a great humanitarian and as business leader who dedicated life to his community and the Ford Motor Company. His surviving son, William Clay Ford Jr, says that his dad, who was a loving father, great-grandfather, husband and family man will be missed.
To the people in Detroit, he was known as the owner of the Detroit Lions, with a great love for the NFL football team that he purchased in the 60s. He showed his passion for winning, but success did not come easy on the field. He was not afraid to spend money on getting the best talent and spent money on executives, free agents and the facilities.
The Lions’ only victory in the playoffs under Ford was in 1992, and the Detroit Lions enjoy the painful distinction of going through an entire season with winning a single game. After 11 years, the Lions were improved enough to make the post season in 2011, but over the next two years, the team lost a total of 21 games to combine one of the worst records in the league.
The president of the Lions, Tom Lewand said in an issued statement that everyone who worked with William Clay Ford would know of the passion that he maintained for the city of Detroit, his family, and his beloved football team, the Detroit Lions. His personal characteristics of kindness and humility, and his leadership ability were deemed to be a high as his priority to make the Lions into Super Bowl champions, and bring the championship to the city of Detroit.
Despite having association to one of the prominent names in the country William Ford maintained a low profile, and led the creation of the iconic Lincoln Mark II in 1956. In 1989, he was elected vice chairman of the company in 1980 and retired in 1989, but remained on the board of directors until 2005. He maintained an emeritus chairman until the Ford Motor Co heir died at 88.
Current Ford Motor Co CEO, Alan Mulally, has said that William Clay Ford had a profound impact not only on the Ford Motor Company, but on the entire auto industry. While the family, the company and the industry mourns his death. Mulally explains that enough gratitude cannot be expressed for his contributions.
In 1979, Philip Caldwell, an outsider, was named as CEO, when professional management was introduced without the family relinquishing control of the automotive giant. The company was brought back under family control in 2001, when CEO Jacques Nasser was replaced by grandson William Clay Ford Jr.
The company remains a leader in different segment so the automotive market with a market share that exceeds 15 percent, and although the Ford Motor Co. heir has died at 88, officials say that his personality, drive and vision will live, and the drive to bring the SuperBowl to the community of Detroit will persist.
By Dale Davidson