When Irma Elder's husband, James, died in 1983, he left her with three children and a Ford dealership — and the courage to become the first woman to own a Ford dealership in the Detroit area.
"Every penny that we had was put into keeping the dealership alive," Irma Elder told Automotive News in June 2008. "It was absolutely necessary that I take over. My father said, 'You have to do it.' My mother said, 'I'll pray for you. It will be all right, because God takes care of widows.' "
Under her leadership and as a testament to her business acumen, that one Ford dealership grew into Elder Automotive Group, which became one of the largest woman- and minority-owned auto retailers in the country. Elder was 84 when she died in 2014.