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Detroit Lions President Reflects On William Clay Ford, Sr. Legacy

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American and Ford flags will fly at half-staff for a 30-day period. (WWJ/Tony Ortiz)

American and Ford flags will fly at half-staff for a 30-day period. (WWJ/Tony Ortiz)

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DETROIT (WWJ) – Owner of the Detroit Lions, and last surviving grandchild of Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford, William Clay Ford Sr. died Sunday morning at his home from pneumonia, he was 88.

Born in Detroit on March 14, 1925, William Clay Ford was the youngest son of Mr. & Mrs. Edsel B. Ford’s four children.  He attended Detroit University School in Grosse Pointe, and the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Conn.  Mr. Ford enlisted in the Naval Air Corps in 1943 and attended the University of Michigan as part of his naval training.  He was in flight training at the time of his discharge two years later.  He then enrolled at Yale University, where he graduated in 1949 with a bachelor of science degree in economics.

Ford had numerous associations and roles outside of Ford Motor Company.  He became president of the Detroit Lions football team in 1961.  He purchased the team in November 1963 and served as its chairman until his death.

Detroit Lions President Tom Lewand issued a statement regarding the death of  William Clay Ford, Sr.

“It is with profound sadness that we mourn the loss of Mr. Ford and extend our deepest sympathies to Mrs. Ford and to the entire Ford family.

“No owner loved his team more than Mr. Ford loved the Lions,” said Lewand.

“Those of us who had the opportunity to work for Mr. Ford knew of his unyielding passion for his family, the Lions and the city of Detroit.

“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. Each of us in the organization will continue to relentlessly pursue that goal in his honor,” said Lewand.

Funeral services will be held privately. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be sent in the name of William Clay Ford to the Henry Ford Museum at 20900 Oakwood Blvd., Dearborn, Mich. 48124 or to Dr. Scott Dulchavsky’s Innovation Institute at Henry Ford Health System at 2799 W. Grand Blvd., Detroit, Mich. 48045.

In honor of Mr. Ford’s memory, Ford Motor Company locations in the U.S. will lower their American and Ford flags to half-staff for a 30-day period. Ford locations outside of the U.S. will follow local custom.

For additional information, timelines, photos and video on Mr. Ford’s life, visit media.ford.com.

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