William Clay Ford, Sr. (March 14, 1925 - March 9, 2014)
The largest single shareholder in the Ford Motor Company died in his sleep last night from pneumonia-related complications. Mr. Ford sat on the board (hey, that rhymes!) for fifty-seven years, owned the Detroit Lions NFL team, and was at least partially responsible for the Continental Mark II.
Mr. Ford’s son, William Clay Ford, Jr., served in the primary leadership positions at Ford Motor Company before turning those positions over to Alan Mullaly. The WSJ quoted Ford, Jr., and Mullaly,
“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.”
As Jack mentioned, WCF Sr. had a role in the creation of the Continental Mark II, surely one of the most beautiful and well made cars ever produced, though the project lost a lot of money. He apparently inherited at least some of his father Edsel's eye for design, heading Ford's executive styling committee and making positive suggestions on design. Loyal to a fault, he seems to have done a good job as a father. His son Billy is one of more respected business executives in the U.S. It takes a big man to admit that he's not the person for the job and not only did Bill Ford Jr. do that, he actually went out and found the right guy for the job. Also, while the Detroit Lions haven't exactly thrived as a football team during Wm Clay Ford Sr's tenure as owner, the National Football League certainly did and he had an important role in the league's growth and success, particularly when Pete Rozelle was the NFL commissioner. Props to Brad Keselowski who mentioned Mr. Ford and his significance to the Detroit area in his post race comments in victory circle at the NASCAR race in Las Vegas (Brad K, who is from the Detroit area, drives a Ford for Roger Penske, whose also based here).
One has to wonder how the company might have turned out if Edsel had lived longer, and it was William Clay, and not Henry II, who would eventually have ended up running the company.
Maybe now The Lions will be sold to someone who actually knows how to run a sports team. Fat chance of that happening though.
Every time I see a Mark II at a show or museum it's beauty and elegance takes my breath away. For that alone and more, thank you Mr. Ford. RIP