William Clay Ford, Sr.

William Clay Ford (born March 14, 1925) is the youngest of the four children of Edsel Ford and a grandchild of Henry Ford.


Ford served in the U.S. Navy Air Corps during World War II. He married Martha Firestone, the granddaughter of Harvey Firestone on June 21, 1947. They have four children - Martha, Sheila, Elizabeth, and William Clay Ford, Jr. Ford received a BS in Economics from Yale University in 1949 and was a member of the Psi Upsilon fraternity and Wolf's Head.

He worked for the Ford Motor Company and was briefly head of the Continental Division. This division was short lived, and was merged with Lincoln shortly before Ford's public stock offering. He updated the Continental that his father had created, and in 1955 the Continental Mark II was released. It is said there were only 2 pictures on the wall in his office at Ford HQ, his father's Continental, and his updated Mark II[1]

After his older brother Henry Ford II retired as head of Ford, William remained as a director of the Company. He was chairman of the most important of the directors' committees, the Finance Committee.[2] He sat on the Ford Board of Directors for 57 years, retiring on May 12, 2005. [3] His son was serving as Ford's CEO at the time.

Detroit Lions

Ford became the sole owner of the Detroit Lions in 1964, purchasing the franchise for $4.5 million from Dick Richards.[4] He is often blamed for the Lions' abysmal record under his ownership [5]. The Lions were one of the most successful teams of the 1950s, winning championships in 1952, 1953 and 1957. However, the Lions have won only one playoff game since Ford became the sole owner of the team, and have never reached the Super Bowl.[6] Compared in a general sense to other NFL owners, he has been typically very tolerant, patient and loyal to his football management teams -- to a fault. He is notorious for keeping executives and coaches even after performance standards remain stagnant or diminish and strong consensus has emerged for firing them. In 2008, under Ford's stewardship, the Lions became the only team in NFL history to go 0-16. The Detroit Lions began playing at Ford Field in downtown Detroit in August 2002.[7]

See also

  • Ford Family Tree
  • SS William Clay Ford, a Merchant Marine vessel named in his honor


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