Martha Firestone Ford

Martha Parke Firestone Ford (born September 16, 1925) is an American businesswoman and former principal owner and chairperson of the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL).[2] Ford is also on the board of the Henry Ford Health System.[3]

Martha Firestone Ford
Martha Parke Firestone

(1925-09-16) September 16, 1925 (age 95)
Akron, Ohio, U.S.
Alma materVassar College (Bachelor's degree)
Years active2014–present
Known forFormer principal owner and chairwoman of the Detroit Lions
Net worth$1.4 billion (October 2018)[1]
(m. 1947; died 2014)

Early life and educationEdit

Born September 16, 1925, in Akron, Ohio, Firestone is the daughter of Harvey S. Firestone Jr. and Elizabeth Parke Firestone. Her paternal grandparents are Firestone Tire and Rubber Co. founder Harvey Samuel Firestone and his wife Idabelle Smith Firestone.[4]

She graduated from Vassar College in 1946.[5]

Professional sportsEdit

Detroit LionsEdit

On March 9, 2014, Martha's husband William died at the age of 88. He had been the sole owner of the Lions since he bought out all other owners in 1963 for US$4.5 million. On March 10, 2014, it was announced that controlling interest in the Lions would pass to her.[6] She is the majority owner of the team, with each of her four children holding small shares in the team.[7]

Ford was one of ten female NFL team owners at the end of her tenure. The others are Virginia Halas McCaskey (Chicago Bears), Kim Pegula (Buffalo Bills), Carol Davis (Las Vegas Raiders), Dee Haslam (Cleveland Browns), Amy Adams Strunk (Tennessee Titans), Gayle Benson (New Orleans Saints), Janice McNair (Houston Texans), Denise DeBartolo York (San Francisco 49ers) and Jody Allen (Seattle Seahawks).[7]

She stepped down as Lions' owner on June 23, 2020 to be succeeded by her daughter Sheila Ford Hamp.[8]

Personal lifeEdit


Ford first met her husband, William Clay Ford, a grandson of Henry Ford, at a lunch in New York arranged and attended by both of their mothers, according to the biography The Fords. She then was a Vassar student who had the college nickname “Stoney.” He was a naval cadet at St. Mary's U.S. Navy Pre-Flight School.[9] They married on June 21, 1947 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Akron, Ohio.[4] By that time both families had acquired considerable wealth, and the matchup between the grandchildren of two empire-builders was reported by numerous news outlets. The Akron Beacon Journal called the Firestone-Ford nuptials “the biggest society wedding in Akron’s history” and “the biggest show Akron has seen in years” in numerous articles chronicling the event. The couple received gifts from F.B.I. Director J. Edgar Hoover, media publisher John S. Knight, and Mina Miller Edison.[9]

Her husband died in 2014. The couple had four children: Martha Parke Morse (b. 1948), Sheila Firestone Hamp (b. 1951), William Clay Ford, Jr. (b. 1957), and Elizabeth Ford Kontulis (b. 1961). Her son William was as of 2015 the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Ford Motor Company. He had previously been the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Operating Officer of Ford and is the Vice Chairman of the Detroit Lions.

Ford has 14 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.[3]

Ford and her immediate family, and several other members of the extended Ford family, have long lived at Grosse Pointe, Michigan.[10] They originally lived in Grosse Pointe Woods after relocating to the Detroit area following their marriage. She has lived in Grosse Pointe Shores since 1960, when she and William had a house built on Lake St. Clair.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Martha Ford". Retrieved June 27, 2016.
  2. ^ Shea, Bill (March 10, 2014). "Martha Ford now owner of Detroit Lions following husband's death will be the ultimate death of the lions". Crain's Detroit Business. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Detroit Lions: Martha Firestone Ford". Archived from the original on October 15, 2016. Retrieved June 27, 2016.
  4. ^ a b "William Clay Ford's wife, Martha, takes over as Lions' majority owner; Bill Ford Jr. remains vice chair". Retrieved June 27, 2016.
  5. ^ "The college announced that William Clay Ford, director and vice president of the Ford Motor Company, had donated $1 million to the capital fund drive of 1969, bringing the total raised to $7 million. - A Documentary Chronicle of Vassar College". Retrieved June 27, 2016.
  6. ^ Martha Ford takes over Lions ownership Archived November 7, 2017, at the Wayback Machine Detroit Lions official site, March 10, 2014
  7. ^ a b "Martha Ford now owner of Detroit Lions following husband's death". March 10, 2014. Retrieved June 27, 2016.
  8. ^ "Martha Firestone Ford to step down as principal owner of Detroit Lions". Retrieved June 23, 2020.
  9. ^ a b Byard, Jim Mackinnon and Katie. "William Clay Ford's death brings back memories of grand Akron wedding in 1947". Retrieved June 27, 2016.
  10. ^ "The Ford Family". Retrieved June 27, 2016.