Martha Firestone Ford

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Martha Firestone Ford
Born Martha Parke Firestone
(1925-09-16) September 16, 1925 (age 93)
Akron, Ohio, United States
Residence Grosse Point, Michigan
Nationality American
Alma mater Vassar College (Bachelor's degree)
Occupation Businesswoman
Years active 2014–present
Known for Principal Owner and Chairwoman of the Detroit Lions
Net worth US$1.4 billion (October 2018)[1]
Spouse(s) William Clay Ford, Sr. (m. 1947 - 2014 (his death))
Children
  • Martha Parke Morse (b. 1948)
  • Sheila Firestone Hamp (b. 1951)
  • William Clay Ford, Jr. (b. 1957)
  • Elizabeth Ford Kontulis (b. 1961)
Parent(s)

Martha Parke Firestone Ford (born September 16, 1925) is an American businesswoman. She is the principal owner and chairwoman of the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL).[2] Ford is also on the board of the Henry Ford Health System.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Born September 16, 1925 in Akron, Ohio, Firestone is the daughter of Harvey S. Firestone, Jr. and Elizabeth Parke Firestone. Her paternal grandparents are Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. founder Harvey Samuel Firestone and his wife Idabelle Smith Firestone.[4]

She graduated from Vassar College in 1946.[5]

Professional sports[edit]

Detroit Lions[edit]

On March 9, 2014, Martha's husband William died at the age of 88. He had been the sole owner of the Lions since he bought out all other owners in 1963 for US$4.5 million. On March 10, 2014 it was announced that controlling interest in the Lions would pass to her.[6] She is the majority owner of the team, with each of her four children holding small shares in the team.[7]

Ford is one of seven female NFL team owners. The others are Virginia Halas McCaskey (Chicago Bears), Kim Pegula (Buffalo Bills), Carol Davis (Oakland Raiders), Dee Haslam (Cleveland Browns), Amy Adams Strunk (Tennessee Titans), Gayle Benson (New Orleans Saints) and Denise DeBartolo York (San Francisco 49ers).[7]

Personal life[edit]

Family[edit]

Ford first met her husband, William Clay Ford, a grandson of Henry Ford, at a lunch in New York arranged and attended by both of their mothers, according to the biography The Fords. She then was a Vassar student who had the college nickname “Stoney.” He was a naval cadet at St. Mary's U.S. Navy Pre-Flight School.[8] They married on June 21, 1947 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Akron, Ohio.[4] By that time both families had acquired considerable wealth, and the matchup between the grandchildren of two empire-builders was reported by numerous news outlets. The Akron Beacon Journal called the Firestone-Ford nuptials “the biggest society wedding in Akron’s history” and “the biggest show Akron has seen in years” in numerous articles chronicling the event. The couple received gifts from F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover, media publisher John S. Knight, and Mina Miller Edison.[8]

Her husband died in 2014. The couple had four children: Martha Parke Morse (b. 1948), Sheila Firestone Hamp (b. 1951), William Clay Ford, Jr. (b. 1957), and Elizabeth Ford Kontulis (b. 1961). Her son William was as of 2015 the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Ford Motor Company. He had previously been the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer of Ford and is the Vice Chairman of the Detroit Lions.

Ford has 14 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.[3]

Ford and her immediate family, and several other members of the extended Ford family, have long lived at Grosse Pointe, Michigan.[9] They originally resided in Grosse Pointe Woods after relocating to the Detroit area following their marriage. She has resided in Grosse Pointe Shores since 1960, when she and William had a house built on Lake St. Clair.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Martha Ford". forbes.com. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  2. ^ Shea, Bill (March 10, 2014). "Martha Ford now owner of Detroit Lions following husband's death will be the ultimate death of the lions". Crain's Detroit Business. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Detroit Lions: Martha Firestone Ford". detroitlions.com. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  4. ^ a b "William Clay Ford's wife, Martha, takes over as Lions' majority owner; Bill Ford Jr. remains vice chair". mlive.com. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  5. ^ "The college announced that William Clay Ford, director and vice president of the Ford Motor Company, had donated $1 million to the capital fund drive of 1969, bringing the total raised to $7 million. - - A Documentary Chronicle of Vassar College". vassar.edu. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  6. ^ Martha Ford takes over Lions ownership Detroit Lions official site, March 10, 2014
  7. ^ a b "Martha Ford now owner of Detroit Lions following husband's death". crainsdetroit.com. 10 March 2014. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  8. ^ a b Byard, Jim Mackinnon and Katie. "William Clay Ford's death brings back memories of grand Akron wedding in 1947". ohio.com. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  9. ^ "The Ford Family". gphistorical.org. Retrieved 27 June 2016.