Martha Firestone Ford
|Martha Firestone Ford|
September 16, 1925 (age 91)
Akron, Ohio, United States
|Education||Vassar College (Bachelor's degree)|
|Net worth||$1.36 billion (September 2015)|
|Spouse(s)||William Clay Ford, Sr. (1947-2014) His Death|
Early life and family
Martha Firestone was born September 16, 1925 in Akron, Ohio. She 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.
Ford graduated from Vassar College in 1946.
Martha first met her husband, William Clay Ford, at a lunch in New York arranged and attended by both of their mothers, according to the biography The Fords. Martha then was a Vassar student who had the college nickname “Stoney.” William was a naval cadet at St. Mary's U.S. Navy Pre-Flight School. They married on June 21, 1947 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Akron, Ohio. 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.
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. William also serves as Vice Chairman of the Detroit Lions.
Martha and her immediate family, and several other members of the extended Ford family, have long lived at Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Martha and William 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.
On March 9, 2014, Martha's husband William died at the age of 88. William 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 Ford's widow, Martha. She is the majority owner of the team, with each of her four children holding small shares in the team.
Martha Ford is among a small group of female NFL team owners. The others are Virginia Halas McCaskey, 93, owner of the Chicago Bears since 1983, when her father, George, died, Kim Pegula co-owner of the Buffalo Bills with her husband Terry, Carol Davis, who, along with her son, Mark Davis, has owned the largest stake in the Oakland Raiders since her husband, Al Davis, died in 2011, and Denise DeBartolo York, owner of the San Francisco 49ers, who, along with her husband John York, gained control of the 49ers from her brother, Edward J. DeBartolo, Jr. in 2000.
- "Martha Ford". forbes.com. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
- 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.
- "Detroit Lions: Martha Firestone Ford". detroitlions.com. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
- "William Clay Ford's wife, Martha, takes over as Lions' majority owner; Bill Ford Jr. remains vice chair". mlive.com. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
- "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.
- 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.
- "The Ford Family". gphistorical.org. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
- Martha Ford takes over Lions ownership Detroit Lions official site, March 10, 2014
- "Martha Ford now owner of Detroit Lions following husband's death". crainsdetroit.com. 10 March 2014. Retrieved 27 June 2016.