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Josephine Ford

Josephine Ford

Died: Wednesday, June 01, 2005
Age: 81
Grosse Pointe Farms resident Josephine Ford, 81, died Wednesday, June 1, 2005, in Detroit.

Mrs. Ford, known as “Dody” to friends and family, was the only granddaughter of Ford Motor Company founder Henry Ford and a lifelong philanthropist.

She provided unstinting financial support to arts, education, cultural and health care institutions; and also provided support for Acadia National Park in Maine, a state where she maintained a summer home.

“She followed in the footsteps of my grandmother in terms of giving,” said Alfred Ford, one of four children of Josephine and Walter Buhl Ford II. “Her support for the arts and for outdoor activities was very important to her, as was her faithful allegiance to Ford Motor Company for many, many years.”

Josephine Ford, born in 1923 to Edsel and Eleanor Ford, was the third of Henry and Clara Ford’s four grandchildren.

She married Walter Buhl Ford II, who came from another Ford family, and together they raised four children: Walter Buhl Ford III, Eleanor Clay Ford, Josephine Clay Ford and Alfred. Walter Buhl Ford II, a partner in the design firm Ford & Earl, died in 1991.

She became one of Ford Motor Company's largest shareholders, with more than 13 million shares of Class B stock (18 percent) at the time of her death. Those shares will remain in the hands of the Ford family.

She was a major benefactor to the Detroit Institute of Arts. Her donations included $20 million as well as a painting by Vincent van Gogh, “The Postman”, that was valued at $40 million. In addition, she bequeathed artwork to the museum.

She donated $25 million to the College for Creative Studies in Detroit to promote education in design and the creative arts. She also pledged an additional $50 million to CCS as part of a matching gift program.

She gave more than $10 million to the Henry Ford Health System, whose Josephine Ford Cancer Center is one of the largest cancer centers in Michigan and is consistently ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the top cancer centers in the nation.

Her name also graces the Josephine Ford Plaza at Greenfield Village, part of The Henry Ford complex founded by her grandfather, to which she donated $10 million.

“My mother brought a great deal of joy to all of us — not only family members, but members of the communities in which she was involved,” said Alfred Ford. “We'll always remember her as a fun person to be with. We'll miss her.”

She is survived by her children, Walter Buhl Ford III, Eleanor Sullivan, Josephine Ingle and Alfred B. Ford; her 13 grandchildren; her 10 great-grandchildren; and her brother, William Clay Ford.

Mrs. Ford was predeceased by her husband, Walter Buhl Ford II.

Funeral services were held Monday, June 6, at the Christ Church Grosse Pointe in Grosse Pointe Farms.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Michigan Humane Society, 26711 Northwestern Hwy., Suite 175, Southfield, MI 48034.
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