Lions Owner, Grandson to Henry Ford, Dead at 88 William Clay Ford ran family business for over 50 years By Newser Editors and Wire Services Posted Mar 9, 2014 2:25 PM CDT 8 comments Comments In this Oct. 26, 2008, file photo, Detroit Lions owner and chairman William Clay Ford walks on the sidelines prior to an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins in Detroit. (Paul Sancya) (Newser) – William Clay Ford, the last surviving grandchild of automotive pioneer Henry Ford and owner of the Detroit Lions, has died. He was 88. Ford Motor Co. said in a statement today that Ford died of pneumonia at his home in Grosse Pointe, Mich. Ford helped steer the family business for more than five decades—and bought one of his own, the NFL franchise in the Motor City, a half-century ago. "My father was a great business leader and humanitarian who dedicated his life to the company and the community," William Clay Ford Jr, executive chairman of Ford Motor Co. and Lions vice chairman, said in a statement Ford was regarded as a dignified man by the select few who seemed to know him well. To the masses in Detroit, he was simply the owner of the Lions who struggled to achieve success on the field despite showing his passion for winning by spending money on the team. As a Ford board member, he helped bring the company back under his family's control in 2001, when the directors ousted former CEO Jacques Nasser in favor of William Clay Ford Jr. Born into an automotive fortune in 1925 bearing what was already a household name, Ford was 23 when he joined the Ford Motor Co. board of directors in 1948, one year after the death of his grandfather, Henry Ford.