Born in March of 1925, William Clay Ford Sr., Henry Ford’s last surviving grandchild and heir to the Ford Motor Company fortune, died on Sunday March 9th, just days before his 89th birthday. According to a news release from the brand, the former Ford Motor Company executive and owner of the Detroit Lions football team died of Pneumonia at his home in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan.
Son of Edsel Ford, Henry Ford’s son, William Clay Ford Sr. joined his brothers Henry Ford II and Benson Ford in the family business in 1949. Long before that, it was Henry Ford himself that had a great influence on the long-time Ford contributor. In fact, according to Reuters, it was Henry Sr. that began teaching William to drive at the young age of 10.
In 1948, just shy of his graduation from Yale University, William Sr. was elected to the Ford Board of Directors. Following his graduation, he started his full-time employment with the Ford Motor Company, holding positions such as Chairman of the Design Committee, a position he held for 32 years, Chairman of the Executive Committee, member of the Office of the Chief Executive, Vice Chairman of the Board, and Chairman of the Finance Committee.
In 2005, he was named Director Emeritus, a position he held until his death.
Though his lineage and string of positions held within the Ford Motor Company are stellar on their own, William Sr. will be remembered most for his role in setting the brand’s design direction, most notably with the creation of the incoln Continental Mark II, a car based on his father’s personal 1939 Lincoln Continental prototype.
William Ford Sr. is survived by his wife of 66 years, Martha Firestone Ford, (granddaughter of Firestone tire company founder Harvey Firestone); son William Clay Ford Jr., current Executive Chairman of the Ford Motor Company; and daughters Martha Ford Morse, Sheila Ford Hamp and Elizabeth Ford Kontulis; as well as 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
William Ford Sr.’s funeral service will be a private affair, although contributions can be made in his name to the Henry Ford Museum or Dr. Scott Dulchavsky’s Innovation Institute at Henry Ford Health System. In honor of William Ford Sr., flags at United States’ Ford dealerships will be lowered to half-staff for the next month.