William Clay Ford, retired vice chairman of Ford Motor Company and the last surviving grandchild of company founder Henry Ford, died this morning after a bout with pneumonia. He was 88.
Ford spent 57 years with his grandfather's company, joining the board of directors in 1948 before graduating from college. Ford also held a position as chairman of the design committee, as well as the chairman of the executive committee and vice chairman of the Board of Directors during his tenure with the company. In a 2013 Detroit Free Press story, retired CFO Allan Gilmour said Ford had an eye for design, and was once able to pick out when a fiberglass model of a Ford Contour was asymmetrical, off by an inch on one side. He retired and assumed the position of director emeritus in 2005.
"My father was a great business leader and humanitarian who dedicated his life to the company and the community," said Bill Ford, Jr., Ford's current executive chairman. "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."
While Ford will be remembered for his longstanding service to his family's company, he may be less fondly remembered by Detroiters as owner of the city's long-suffering NFL team, the Detroit Lions. Ford purchased the Lions in 1963 and has served as its chairman ever since.
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