William Clay Ford, grandson of Henry Ford, died on Sunday at his home in Grosse Pointe, Mich. William was Henry’s last surviving grandchild. The Ford Motor Company said in a statement that he died of pneumonia. Mr. Ford had been owner of the Detroit Lions since 1964.
William Clay Ford originally paid $4.5 million in November 1963 for the Lions franchise, which is now valued at approximately $900 million, according to Forbes. He officially assumed ownership of the team in January 1964.
Through his marriage to Martha Parke Firestone, granddaughter of the tire magnate Harvey Firestone, Mr. Ford united two of America’s industrial dynasties. Ford has bought millions of Firestone tires.
William was Ford’s largest shareholder for a long time, and the last Ford family member to be a confidant of Henry Ford, the American legend who made the automobile accessible to the masses.
As vice chairman of Ford and the leader of powerful board committees, he provided stability, perspective and stewardship of the family’s interest. “My father was a great business leader and humanitarian who dedicated his life to the company and the community,” William Clay Ford Jr. said in a statement. “He also was a wonderful family man, a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.”