In the automotive world and in Detroit, Edsel Ford II is a big name.
Right now for the moment, to the larger world, he is probably better known as the Henry Ford descendant and member of the Ford Motor board of directors who was arrested at his Michigan home last week on domestic violence charges. He spent the night in jail.
Officials in Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich., where he lives, later said there was not enough evidence to charge Ford.
Ford, 67, is the great-grandson of founder Henry Ford and the son of Henry Ford II. He is also someone with whom I worked very closely in my time as the Ford National Dealer Council Chairman.
He is instantly recognizable because of the global automaker’s 113-year presence in metro Detroit and because he carries the same name of Henry Ford’s son, Edsel Ford, who struggled to run the company in the 1930s and whose name adorned the Edsel car produced by Ford from 1958 to 1960.
The Ford family also has frequently been compared to Detroit royalty, and challenges faced by family members were the source of tremendous attention, especially in the 1960s and 1970s, according to “The Ford’s: An American Epic,” by Peter Collier, David Horowitz.
While Ford remains active with several large charitable foundations, Ford has largely stayed out of the public eye over the past decade.
In 2005, Crain’s Detroit Business named Ford “Newsmaker of the Year,” for his involvement in the creation of Campus Maritus.
At the time, Ford said his goal was to make sure that the automaker’s long history of civic involvement continued and wanted to contribute to Detroit’s revival.
“I want my grandchildren to have the experience that I have had with my children, enjoying the tranquility of a weekday and the excitement of race day at Belle Isle Park,” Ford said in a statement at the time. “I want them to stand by the river and watch the freighters parade past. I want them to walk in the shade of trees planted by people who loved them before they were born. I want them to celebrate in a park in the center of Detroit.”
Even as other community leaders heaped praise on Ford for his involvement in downtown Detroit, Ford himself shied away from taking credit and rarely granted media interviews.
At one time, Ford also was deeply involved in the operations of the company founded by his great grandfather.
Ford began his career at Ford Motor Company in 1974. He was named president and chief operating officer of Ford Motor Credit, Ford’s financing and lending arm, in 1991 and was elected a company vice president in 1993, according to his official company biography.
During nearly 25 years at Ford, Edsel’s jobs ranged from product-planning analyst to executive director of marketing, before his work with Ford Motor Credit.
After leaving Ford Credit, Edsel became Ford liaison to the National Automobile Dealers Association.
When he was a Babson College student, he worked at a Rhode Island Ford dealership, and he shares his ancestors’ appreciation of dealers. “I feel very passionately that auto dealers are the front line . . . our representatives to the customer,” he told USA TODAY in 1998. “It’s a very good education for me in how to do business.”
Ford is very active in several charitable organizations and is owner and chairman of Pentastar Aviation, an aviation services provider headquartered at Oakland County International Airport in suburban Detroit.
Pentastar Aviation opened an aircraft interior design center last fall at in Waterford.
“The aviation industry is being pushed forward by innovators, those who confront problems – engineering or aesthetic – and instead of shying away, they work harder and smarter than anyone else to find solutions,” Ford told the Free Press at the time.