It’s sad day for the city of Detroit, because today we learned that William Clay Ford Sr., who bought the Detroit Lions more than 50 years ago, has passed away at 88 years old. The Detroit Lions and the Ford Motor Company, have both confirm the passing of Mr. Ford Sr.
Born in Detroit, MI, and the son of Edsel Ford, he was a Navy veteran of World War II and graduate of Yale University. He was the youngest child of Edsel Bryant Ford and was the last surviving grandchild of Henry Ford.
Ford served as Director Emeritus of the Ford Motor Company. One of his many achievements at Ford, was the fact that he updated the Continental brand that his father had created, introducing the Continental Mark II in 1955, which according to a statement from the Ford Motor Company, is considered by many to be one of the most iconic cars ever built.
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.
In 1978, Mr. Ford was elected chairman of the Executive Committee and appointed a member of the Office of the Chief Executive. He was elected vice chairman of the Board in 1980 and chairman of the Finance Committee in 1987. He retired from his post as vice chairman in 1989 and as chairman of the Finance Committee in 1995. He retired from the board and was named Director Emeritus on May 12, 2005.
Ford bought the Lions in 1963 for $4.5 million and since that time the Lions have been to the playoffs ten times and only winning one playoff game. While many people like to judge him based off his success or non-success with the Lions, I encourage people to remember that this was a great man, who earned everything he got and provided multiple opportunities to others. Let’s not forget that it was Ford who brought the Lions to Ford Field in 2002 and spent $500 million to enhance the stadium.
Ford was not someone who sought out attention, he was someone who worked hard and didn’t expect recognition and was passionate about everything he did and loyal to everyone, which is why this loss it not only a huge loss to the Lions organization but to the city of Detroit as well and apparently others feel the same way. Current Lion players like Ndamukong Suh and Reggie Bush made comments on Twitter about the late Mr. Ford.
In a press statement, Lions President Tom Lewand said that no owner loved his team more than Mr. Ford
“It is with profound sadness that we mourn the loss of Mr. Ford and extend our deepest sympathies to Mrs. Ford and to the entire Ford family.
“No owner loved his team more than Mr. Ford loved the Lions.
“Those of us who had the opportunity to work for Mr. Ford knew of his unyielding passion for his family, the Lions and the city of Detroit.
“His leadership, integrity, kindness, humility and good humor were matched only by his desire to bring a Super Bowl championship to the Lions and to our community. Each of us in the organization will continue to relentlessly pursue that goal in his honor.”
Ford is survived by his wife of 66 years Martha, and his four children, Martha, Elizabeth, Shelia and Detroit Lions Vice Chairman William Jr. He also is survived by 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
According to a statement from the Ford Motor Company, funeral services for Mr. Ford will be held privately.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent in the name of William Clay Ford to the Henry Ford Museum at 20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn, Mich. 48124 or to Dr. Scott Dulchavsky’s Innovation Institute at Henry Ford Health System at 2799 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit, Mich. 48045.
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.
Written by LBeasley (Lauren Beasley), Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit