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The Ford Legacy

Few family dynasties in Corporate America can compare with the stormy mix of creative genius, business acumen, noblesse oblige, infighting, scandal, and boardroom feuding of the Fords. Nearly 100 years after the first Model T rolled off the assembly line, the family still controls 40% of the company. On Jan. 1, 1999, the fourth generation will take the wheel, as Bill Ford Jr. becomes chairman

HENRY FORD
(1863-1947)
WIFE, CLARA BRYANT

Ford Motor founder, he ran the company from its inception in 1903 to 1945. An inveterate tinkerer who once worked for Thomas Edison, he was an early champion of the gas-powered engine. But he was best known for creating the first moving assembly line. Although he was a pioneer in mass-produced, affordable cars, his stubborn refusal to diversify beyond the Model T and his bloody battles with unions pushed his company to the brink of disaster. Famously insisted that customers could have any color car ''so long as it is black.'' He favored social engineering, building schools, roads, and hospitals--but also insisted on employee cleanliness, thrift, and sobriety.

EDSEL BRYANT FORD
(1893-1943)
WIFE, ELEANOR CLAY

Henry Ford's only child, Edsel was president from 1919 to 1943. A frail, creative manager, he was bullied and undermined by his father. His son Henry II inadvertently made his name synonymous with failure by naming the Edsel after him.

HENRY FORD II
(1917-87)
WIFE, ANNE McDONNELL

Left Yale after his father's death to join Ford in 1943. CEO from 1945; chairman 1960-80. An autocratic leader who fired three presidents, he revived the company after World War II. Settled fights with: ''My name is on the building.''


-- CHARLOTTE FORD
(1941- )
Agitated in 1989 for a greater Ford family presence on the board. Publishes Charlotte Ford's Book of Modern Manners.

-- ANNE FORD
(1943- )

-- EDSEL FORD II
(1948- )
Joined company in 1974; board in 1988. As eldest male cousin, was once top contender to run the company. Became president of Ford Motor Credit in 1991 but left in April, 1998, to pursue private interests.


BENSON FORD
(1919-78)
WIFE, EDITH McNAUGHTON


Joined company in 1940, became a director in 1941. Held jobs in Lincoln- Mercury and dealer operations until his death in 1978 but gradually receded from the business to spend his days yachting, as his brother Henry II shut him out.


-- BENSON FORD JR.
(1949- )
Living in Southern California and racing cars, he hired attorney Roy Cohn to sue the family trust after his father's death in 1978, demanding more money and a board seat. He raised a ruckus from the floor at Ford's 1979 shareholder meeting. Since reconciled with the family, he returned to take a Ford marketing job between 1986 and 1995. He now sponsors a motorcycle team and races formula cars.

-- LYNN FORD ALANDT
(1951- )


JOSEPHINE CLAY FORD
(1923- )
HUSBAND, WALTER BUHL FORD II

Known as the family prankster, she married interior designer Walter Buhl Ford II (no relation) in 1943. A museum benefactor, her own collection includes paintings by Van Gogh, Renoir, and Picasso.


-- WALTER BUHL FORD III
(1943- )
Tried to start a movie business. Worked for Ford marketing from 1978 to 1993.

-- ELEANOR CLAY FORD BOURKE
(1946- )

-- JOSEPHINE CLAY FORD INGLE
(1949- )

-- ALFRED BRUSH FORD
(1950- )
Shunned the family business, became a Hare Krishna, and renamed himself Ambarish Das. Donated a part of his fortune to convert a Grosse Pointe mansion into an ashram. Active in Ford corporate charities.


WILLIAM CLAY FORD
(1925- )
WIFE, MARTHA FIRESTONE

A director since 1948, ran Continental car division until brother Henry II closed it down in 1956. Named vice-chairman in 1980 when Henry bypassed him to name a nonfamily chairman. Became head of key finance committee after Henry's death in 1987.


-- MARTHA PARKE FORD MORSE
(1948- )

-- SHEILA FIRESTONE HAMP
(1951- )
Currently active in Ford corporate charities.

-- WILLIAM CLAY FORD JR.
(1957- )
Hired at Ford in 1979 straight out of Princeton. Joined board in 1988. Rotated through 15 jobs before leaving management in 1994 to run the finance committee.

-- ELIZABETH KONTULIS
(1961- )


SOURCE: BW, ''THE FORDS'' BY PETER COLLIER AND DAVID HOROWITZ; FORD MOTOR CO.




RELATED ITEMS

COVER STORY: TAKING THE WHEEL AT FORD
COVER IMAGE: Chairman Ford

TABLE: The Ford Legacy

PHOTO: Edsel and Eleanor Ford and Their Four Children

PHOTO: Henry and Clara Ford, 1943

CHART: Ford vs. GM: And the Winner Is...

RESUME: William Clay Ford Jr.

ONLINE ORIGINAL: INVESTING IN THE BIG THREE: DRIVE CAREFULLY


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Updated Sept. 17, 1998 by bwwebmaster
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