In American automotive history, few other family names are as well-recognized as Ford. Unlike other automakers, where the founders or namesakes are remembered in name only, the Ford family is still an integral part of the Ford Motor Company. The last surviving grandchild of company founder Henry Ford and father of Ford Motor Company chairman William Clay “Bill” Ford Jr., William Clay Ford, passed away the morning of March 9, 2014 from pneumonia.
Ford’s career with the company spanned 57 years, serving as chairman of the design committee from 1957 to 1989, and was instrumental in the design of the Continental Mark II, considered to be one of the company’s most iconic designs. He was elected chairman of the Executive Committee in 1978, and vice chairman of the board in 1980. He retired from the board with the title Director Emeritus in 2005.
Ford is survived by wife of 66 years Martha Firestone Ford, daughters Martha Ford Morse, Sheila Ford Hamp, Elizabeth Ford Kontulis, and son William Clay Ford Jr. He is also survived by 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Aside from his involvement in Ford Motor Company, Ford is perhaps best-known as being president and chairman of the Detroit Lions football team, which he purchased in 1963. He served as chairman of the team until his passing. He also served as chairman of the board of trustees of the Henry Ford Museum from 1951 to 1983. He also served as a director of the Detroit Economic Club, a national trustee of the Boys and Girls Club of America, and had the Henry Ford Hospital’s Center for Athletic Medicine named in his honor.
In lieu of flowers, contributions can be sent in his memory to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn.