William Clay Ford Sr., owner of the Detroit Lions for more than five decades and the last surviving grandson of Henry Ford, died Sunday morning at the age of 88.
According to Ford Motor Company, Ford died in his home Sunday morning of pneumonia. William Clay Ford's son said in the statement, "My father was a great business leader and humanitarian ... He was a wonderful family man ... He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him, yet he will continue to inspire us all."
Ford worked as an employee and mostly in leadership for the Ford Motor Company for more than 57 years. He served as chairman of the design committee for 32 years and worked as the chairman of the Ford Finance committee from 1989 to 1995.
Ford retired from his post on the Ford Motor Company Board of Directors in 2005 but was named Director Emeritus that same year. One job he never quit though was his position as owner of the Detroit Lions.
Ford purchased the Detroit Lions in November of 1963 for $4.5 million, 50 years later the Lions are now worth $900 million according to Forbes, but Ford's legacy as an owner is a troubled one.
"Among a fan base they'll look at the wins and the losses and the fact that this has been a very very difficult franchise to watch." (Via ESPN)
Since Ford took over in 1963 the Detroit Lions have won one playoff game and have never been to a Super Bowl. A far cry from before the Super Bowl era when the Detroit Lions won four separate NFL Championships. (Via WXYZ)
Putting Ford's losing record with the Lions aside, Tom Lewand, the Detroit Lions president released this statement about the late William Clay Ford.
"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" (Via Detroit Lions)
Ford is survived by his four children and wife of 66 years, Martha Firestone Ford. She's the granddaughter of Henry Samuel Firestone, who founded Firestone Tire Company.