Thanks to mothers, Ford Motor Co. is still around

Sunday is Mother's Day, a time to honor those who raised us. For one auto family, the holiday symbolizes something even more profound: mothers who saved the family business. The company in question? Ford.

Henry Ford established Ford Motor Co. in 1903 at age 40. Five years later, he introduced the Model T, a car that changed America forever.

Ford retained an iron grip on the company despite his advancing years. Always unpredictable, Ford grew more so as he aged. No one knew this better than Henry's only son, Edsel, who served as Ford Motor Co. president. The elder Ford often undermined his son in an effort to toughen him up.

On May 23, 1943, Edsel, then 49 years old, died of cancer and undulant fever. Incredibly, his father, age 80, appointed himself president of Ford.

The U.S. government became concerned as the company's condition deteriorated. Ford was one of their largest wartime contractors. Edsel's wife, Eleanor, and his mother pressured Henry to turn it over Ford Motor Co. to their grandson, Henry II. The old man was reluctant.

Only when young Henry's mother, Eleanor, threatened to sell her stock did old Henry relent. The government released Henry II from military service and, on September 21, 1945, Eleanor's son took the helm and soon returned Ford to health.

Two mothers - Henry's and Edsel's - had saved Ford Motor Co.

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