William Clay Ford Sr. Commemorated with Ford Scholarships

William Clay FordWhen William Clay Ford Sr. recently passed away (just five days shy of his 89th birthday), he left behind a legacy that will never be forgotten. As an automotive icon, he’ll be remembered for his many innovative designs and ideas. As a man, he’ll forever be recognized for his integrity and willingness to give back to the city of Detroit.

Born in 1925, he was the last surviving grandson of Henry Ford. He was either an employee or board member in more than half of Ford’s illustrious 100-year history.

William Clay Ford Sr. Scholarships

To commemorate Mr. Ford’s life and accomplishments, the Ford Motor Company has committed $50,000 per year for the next 20 years earmarked for grants to deserving students. Five $10,000 grants will be awarded each year to high school sophomores and juniors who are dedicating their lives to automotive design. This is a fitting tribute, as all accounts say design was the automotive passion of William Clay Ford Sr.

The program’s exact details will be announced soon. Artistic schools with partnerships through Ford such as the Detroit Institute of Arts, the College for Creative Studies (Detroit), Art Center College of Design (Pasadena, CA) will be the beneficiaries. High schools set receive support include the Henry Ford Academies in San Antonio, TX and Detroit.

The Life of William Clay Ford Sr.

William Clay Ford Sr. was a member of the United States Navy Air Corps, serving his country during World War II. He graduated from Yale University, where he was the captain of the varsity tennis and soccer teams.

In 1948 he was elected to the Ford Motor Company’s Board of Directors. At the time, he was just 23 years old and hadn’t yet graduated from college. 

He is perhaps best known for designing the iconic Continental Mark II; and his refusal to sell controlling interest in the company when it went public in 1956 – despite the objections of many in the company, including his then-CEO brother, Henry Ford II.  

He and his wife, Martha (granddaughter of Harvey Firestone of the Firestone tire company), were married for 66 years.

In 1963, he purchased controlling interest in the NFL’s Detroit Lions. He oversaw three stadium changes, including the most recent move to Ford Field in 2002. Friends and team executives say no one loved his family, his football team and the citizens of Detroit more than William Clay Ford Sr.