A simplified look at the Ford family tree

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Edsel Ford's children (with Eleanor Clay Ford)

Henry Ford II (1917-1987). Henry II was arguably the most important person in the world auto industry for nearly 40 years. He saved his family's company and had a good time running the show. He was the boss, and he proved it by firing two company presidents. Henry II married three times. His personal life titillated the media, but his stance was "Never complain, never explain."

Benson Ford (1919-1978). The least known of Edsel Ford's sons. Henry had the company; Bill had the Detroit Lions; and Benson headed Lincoln-Mercury from 1948 to 1955. Later he was chairman of the Dealer Policy Board, which mediated factory-dealer disputes. He served on the board of directors but was not a prime player in company affairs.

Josephine Ford (b. 1923). The oldest living family member. Eccentric and everyone's friend. "Dodie" was close to her mother and the only Ford of her generation who also stayed close to Grandmother Clara. She started the "Ford Fords" branch of the family by marrying Walter Buhl Ford II.

William Clay Ford Sr. (b. 1925). He was squeezed out of the business by big brother Henry II but found an identity as owner of the Detroit Lions. He and his wife, Martha, reared four children, the third of whom, Bill, is now CEO of the company.

Henry II's children (with Anne McDonnell Ford)

Charlotte Ford (b. 1941). Charlotte is regarded by many as the family member of her generation who would have run the company if she had been a man. She is an etiquette authority and author of Charlotte Ford's Book of Modern Manners. She's twice divorced. Her brief marriage to Greek shipping tycoon Stavros Niarchos in the mid-1960s produced Elena, the automaker's rising star of the fifth generation.

Anne Ford (b. 1943). Anne was her father's confidante as a teen but moved to New York with Charlotte and her mother after the divorce. She has a son and a daughter from her 10-year marriage to stockbroker Giancarlo Uzielli.

Edsel Ford II (b. 1948). The only son of Henry II was viewed as the heir apparent until cousin Bill lapped him. Edsel II is affable and self-effacing. He worked for the company for 25 years before retiring in 1998 as CEO of Ford Credit. He retains his seats on Ford's board and its finance committee. Edsel II has started a consulting company representing Ford dealers and has acquired Pentastar Aviation. He is active in charitable organizations.


Edsel, Eleanor, Henry II, Benson, Josephine and William Clay Ford in 1937.


Benson's children (with Edith McNaughton Ford)

Benson Ford Jr. (b. 1949). Benson Jr. became, like his father, one of the lost boys of the Ford family. He sued his mother over his father's will in 1979 even as he was seeking a seat on the Ford Motor board and took nine years to get a degree from Whittier College while immersing himself in the Southern California lifestyle. After a couple of drug busts, he showed up wired - with a tape recorder - at a famous family meeting in 1978. He eventually reconciled with the family and held a Ford marketing job from 1986 to 1995. He races cars and supports Racing for Kids, which uses motorsports to raise funds for children's health care.

Lynn Ford Alandt (b. 1951). The shy Lynn, along with her brother, Benson, was virtually raised by servants. She married Paul Alandt.

Josephine's children (with Walter Buhl Ford II)

Walter Buhl Ford III (b. 1943). The unassuming "Buhlie" flopped in numerous business ventures, a movie company among them. He worked in marketing at Ford Motor from 1978 to 1993.

Eleanor Clay Ford Bourke (b. 1946). "Nonie" sometimes denied being a Ford.

Josephine Clay Ford Ingle (b. 1949). "Jolie."

Alfred Brush Ford (b. 1950). He probably holds his generation's record for least interest shown in the family business. He joined the Krishna Consciousness movement 27 years ago, changed his name to Ambarish Das and teamed with Walter Reuther's daughter Elizabeth to convert the Fisher mansion in Detroit into an ashram. He collects art. His principal connection with the family enterprise is as a trustee of the Ford Motor Co. Fund. He's also the co-founder of RapportNET LLC, an Internet technology company, and was instrumental in establishing the first Hindu temple in Hawaii.

William's children (with Martha Firestone Ford)

Martha Parke Ford Morse (b. 1948). "Muffy" was an academic high achiever.

Sheila Firestone Ford Hamp (b. 1951). Sheila was a state tennis champion in high school and an honor student at Yale. She's now a trustee of the Ford Motor Co. Fund and the wife of Steven Hamp, president of The Henry Ford since 1996.

William Clay Ford Jr. (b. 1957). Bill generally is regarded as the smartest Ford of his generation and has the academic credentials to prove it. He leapfrogged cousin Edsel II when he was appointed to head the Ford board's powerful finance committee in 1995. He called himself William Clay in his first job to avoid undue deference or curiosity. Fascinated by American history, Buddhism and environmental issues, he often seemed to agonize over whether he and the company were a good fit. After holding more than a dozen positions at Ford Motor, he finally got to run something there: the company.

Elizabeth Hudson Ford Kontulis (b. 1961). Elizabeth is married to Princeton classmate Chuck Kontulis, a money manager and stockbroker.

Charlotte's child (with Stavros Niarchos)

Elena Ford (b. 1966). Elena is the first member of the fifth generation to hold an executive position with the company and the first Ford female in management. She became global operations director in December after a year as Mercury brand manager. She has her eye on a board seat.

You can reach Jeff Mortimer at (Unknown address).

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