The grandson of Henry Ford and the owner of the Detroit Lions William Clay Ford Sr died a the age of 88 Sunday morning according to Ford Motor Company.
Detroit Lions president Tom Lewand released the following statement on the passing of the team’s longtime owner (via PFT):
“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. 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.”
The news does not as a big surprise since Ford’s health had been in decline in recent years. When he was seen at a home games last season he was in a wheelchair and has had at least three previous heart operations.
Ford bought the franchise back in 1963 from Edwin Anderson and Lyle Fife for $6 million. Under his guidance they moved out of Tiger Stadium to Pontiac Stadium before moving in to Ford Field in 2002. The team only reached the playoffs ten times during his tenure as owner–the most recent appearance coming in 2011–but only one won post season game (38-6 over the Dallas Cowboys during the ’91 season).
His team also became the first to ever complete an NFL season without winning a single game (0-16 in 2008) under the guidance of former general manager Matt Millen.
Ford was a veteran having served in Navy during WWII. His son William Clay Ford Jr. will likely assume control of the team. He is survived by his wife Martha who he married in 1947 and three daughters.