DETROIT, March 10 (UPI) -- William Clay Ford Sr., a scion of the Ford Motors' founding family who guided the company since 1948, will retire from the board of directors in May.
A Ford director since 1948 and the board's vice chairman during the 1980s, Bill Ford Sr. has been a major figure in Ford's corporate history. The company has no plans to find a replacement for him on the board, the Detroit News reported Thursday.
During his leadership, the company was transformed from a family-held business built by his grandfather, Henry Ford, into a global automotive giant now headed by his son, Bill Ford Jr., the newspaper said.
"Leaving the board will relieve me of formal duties and give me more flexibility," the patriarch, who also owns the Detroit Lions, told the board Wednesday. He turns 80 next Monday.
He was instrumental in the board's decision in 2001 to fire Ford's then-chief executive, Jacques Nasser, and turn the reins over to his son.
Bill Ford Sr. remains the company's largest individual stockholder, owning 21 percent of the powerful Class B shares held solely by members of the Ford extended family.