(WXYZ) - Detroit Lions owner William Clay Ford died Sunday morning.
He was 88 years old.
Ford had a controlling ownership interest in the Lions for 51 seasons through 2013. He joined the organization as President in 1961 and purchased the team in November 1963 for $4.5 million.
Lions President Tom Lewand issued his statement Sunday afternoon.
"No owner loved his team more than Mr. Ford loved the Lions," Lewand said. "Those of us who had the opportunity to work for Mr. Ford knew of his unyielding passion for his family, the Lions and the city of Detroit."
“His leadership, integrity, kindness, humility and good humor were matched only by his desire to bring a Super Bowl championship to the Lions and to our community. Each of us in the organization will continue to relentlessly pursue that goal in his honor.”
Ford's tenure as owner of the Lions is well documented. While helping keep Detroit in the spotlight with the Thanksgiving Day game tradition, the Lions have never reached the Super Bowl.
Ford was the youngest of Edsel Ford's four children, born March 14, 1925. Before his death, he was the only surviving grandson of Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company.
In May 2005, he retired from the Ford Board of Directors in May 2005, ending a tenure that began in 1948.
“My father was a great business leader and humanitarian who dedicated his life to the company and the community,” said William Clay Ford, Jr., executive chairman, Ford Motor Company. “He also was a wonderful family man, a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him, yet he will continue to inspire us all.”
“Mr. Ford had a profound impact on Ford Motor Company,” said Alan Mulally, Ford president and CEO. “The company extends its deepest sympathies to the many members of the extended Ford family at this difficult time. While we mourn Mr. Ford’s death, we also are grateful for his many contributions to the company and the auto industry.”
Ford is survived by his wife, Martha, and has three daughters: Martha, Shelia, and Elizabeth. His son, Bill Ford, Jr., is the executive chairman of Ford Motor Company and vice chairman of the Lions.