Martha Firestone Ford

Martha Firestone Ford
Born Martha Firestone
(1925-09-16)September 16, 1925 (age 91)
Akron, Ohio, United States
Nationality American
Education Vassar College (Bachelor's degree)
Net worth Decrease$1.36 billion (September 2015)[1]
Spouse(s) William Clay Ford, Sr. (1947-2014) His Death
  • Martha Parke Morse (b. 1948)
  • Sheila Firestone Hamp (b. 1951)
  • William Clay Ford, Jr. (b. 1957)
  • Elizabeth Ford Kontulis (b. 1961)

Martha Firestone Ford (born September 16, 1925) is the majority owner and chairwoman of the NFL team the Detroit Lions,[2] and is on the board of the Henry Ford Health System.[3]

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.[4]

Ford graduated from Vassar College in 1946.[5]

Ford family

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.[6] 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.[6]

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.

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

Martha and her immediate family, and several other members of the extended Ford family, have long lived at Grosse Pointe, Michigan.[7] 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.

Detroit Lions

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.[8] She is the majority owner of the team, with each of her four children holding small shares in the team.[9]

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.[9]

See also


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