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William Clay Ford Passes Away At Age 88
57-Year Ford Employee and Detroit Lions Owner
William Clay Ford, the last surviving grandson of Ford Motor Company Founder Henry Ford, lost his battle with pneumonia at his home on March 9, 2014 at the age of 88.
Mr. Ford held down his post at Ford for 57 years as an employee and served as Director Emeritus and helped mold the company for more than half of Ford’s 110-year history. On June 4, 1948, he was elected to the Board of Directors after graduating from Yale University in 1949. Then, in 1957, he was elected chairman of the Design Committee where he oversaw projects including the iconic Continental Mark II.
Fast forward to 1978, Mr. Ford was again elected, but this time as chairman of the Executive Committee and appointed member of the Office of the Chief Executive. In 1980 he was elected vice chairman of the Board and in 1987 they he was given the chairman of the Finance Committee. In 1989 he retired as vice chairman and retired from his post on the Finance Committee in 1995. He retired from the board and was then named Director Emeritus on May 12, 2005.
“My father was a great business leader and humanitarian who dedicated his life to the company and the community,” said William Clay Ford, Jr., executive chairman, Ford Motor Company. “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.”
“Mr. Ford had a profound impact on Ford Motor Company,” said Alan Mulally, Ford president and CEO. “The company extends its deepest sympathies to the many members of the extended Ford family at this difficult time. While we mourn Mr. Ford’s death, we also are grateful for his many contributions to the company and the auto industry.”
Not only was Mr. Ford a vital part of Ford Motor Company over the years, but he was also president of the Detroit Lions football team starting in 1961. Two years later in ’63, Mr. Ford purchased the football team, while serving as chairman until his recent death. On top of his many roles, he was also a community leader and philanthropist.
For the Henry Ford Museum, Mr. Ford served chairman of the board of trustees from 1951 to 1983 where he was given the name chairman emeritus. He then served as director of the Detroit Economic Club in Michigan and was an honorary life trustee of the Eisenhower Medical Center and national trustee for the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs of America. Adding to his lengthy resume, he was an honorary chair of the United Way for Southeastern Michigan and served on the Texas Heart Institute National Advisory Council.
In 1996, the Henry Ford Hospital opened the William Clay Ford Center for Athletic Medicine named after William Clay Ford, a leading sports medicine treatment and research institution. The University of Michigan built a brand new outdoor tennis center also named in his honor. The Great Hall of the Henry Ford Museum, the William Clay Ford Hall of American Innovation, was yet another great landmark named after William Clay Ford and everything he has brought to the community. In honor of Mr. Ford, Ford locations across the United States will fly the American flag at half-mast for a 30-day period.
Private funeral services have been arranged and in lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent in his name of William Clay Ford to the Henry Ford Museum:
20900 Oakwood Blvd.
Dearborn, Michigan 48124
Dr. Scott Dulchavsky’s Innovation Institute at Henry Ford Health System
2799 W. Grand Blvd.
Detroit, Michigan 48045