DETROIT - Josephine Ford, who had been the oldest living member of the Ford family, died Wednesday, June 1, at a hospital here. She was 81 and had been ill for several weeks.
Known as "Dody" to her family, Josephine Ford was the third of Edsel Ford's four children. She was the granddaughter of Ford Motor Co. founder Henry Ford and the aunt of Ford Motor CEO Bill Ford. Her younger brother, William Clay Ford Sr., 80, who retired this spring from the company's board of directors, is now the family's last surviving member from that generation.
Josephine Ford never had an operational role at Ford Motor Co. But she became one of the automaker's largest shareholders and had more than 13 million shares of Class B stock at the time of her death. Those shares, which represented 18 percent of the family's special Class B stock, will remain in the hands of the Ford family.
In a note to Ford Motor employees, Bill Ford said: "Throughout her life, my aunt embodied the spirit of giving and family loyalty. She was an inspiration to all who knew her. Her love for Ford Motor Co. was unsurpassed, and all of us will mourn her passing."
Born in 1923, Josephine Ford was married to Walter Buhl Ford II, who died in 1991. He was not related to the auto family. The couple had four children: Walter Buhl Ford III, Eleanor Clay Ford, Josephine Clay Ford and Alfred Ford.
A noted philanthropist, Josephine Ford donated money to several Detroit institutions.