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MailTribune.com
  • Ex-Ford CEO Philip Caldwell dies

  • DETROIT — Philip Caldwell, the first nonfamily member entrusted to run the Ford Motor Co., has died at the age of 93.
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  • DETROIT — Philip Caldwell, the first nonfamily member entrusted to run the Ford Motor Co., has died at the age of 93.
    The resident of New Canaan, Conn., died Wednesday from complications of a stroke, the family said.
    Caldwell was born in 1920 in the tiny southern Ohio town of Bourneville. The youngest of four children, he went on to carve out a 32-year career with Ford where he quietly and effectively tackled tasks with increasing amounts of responsibility.
    Even after retirement in 1985, he continued to serve on the board of directors for another five years.
    "Philip Caldwell had a remarkable impact at Ford Motor Company over a span of more than 30 years," said Executive Chairman Bill Ford in a statement.
    "Serving as CEO and later as chairman of the board of directors, he helped guide the company through a difficult turnaround in the 1980s and drove the introductions of ground-breaking products around the globe. His dedication and relentless passion for quality always will be hallmarks of his legacy at Ford. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family."
    His legacy includes taking the CEO mantle from Henry Ford II — over the more bombastic Lee Iacocca — and overseeing the company as it created a truck dynasty with its pickups and car leadership with the Ford Taurus.
    Caldwell's quiet tenacity and the trust he built with Henry Ford II elevated him to top leadership alongside Iacocca and finally to CEO while the fiery Iacocca, father of the Mustang, was shown the door in 1977.
    Caldwell drew on his Harvard MBA to orchestrate an impressive financial turnaround in the early 1980s while also repairing union relations. When he retired, the UAW made him an honorary member.
    His accomplishments spoke louder than one would expect from the conservative businessman who tackled his job with the military precision he learned as a lieutenant with the U.S. Navy during World War II, stationed in Washington, D.C., then Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
    Caldwell started his Ford career in 1953 in purchasing and engineering before being named manager of truck operations, which became the backbone of the company. His breadth of knowledge grew as he oversaw manufacturing, then ran Ford of Europe and eventually all international operations.
    In 1979 Caldwell became president and CEO of the family-owned company and a year later he added chairman to his titles, succeeding Henry Ford II who remained on the board.
    Caldwell retired as Ford chairman and CEO in 1985 and moved to New Canaan where he devoted more time to his love of American history and antiques which he shared with his wife, Betsey. His home and office were filled with antiques.
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