September 3, 2014 at 7:16 pm

Lions continue to honor late owner William Clay Ford Sr.

A flag similar to this one flying outside the Lions training facility in Allen Park will fly outside Ford Field, beginning with Monday night's season opener. (Daniel Mears / Detroit News)

Allen Park — Since owner William Clay Ford Sr. died March 9, the Lions have subtly honored him outside the team’s headquarters.

There are three flagpoles outside the Allen Park facility, and unlike the flags for the U.S. and state of Michigan, the Honolulu blue team flag remained at half-staff in remembrance of the owner.

All Ford Motor Co. locations in the U.S. lowered their American and Ford flags to half-staff for 30 days after Ford’s death, but the team flag outside Allen Park has been flying low for nearly six months.

Within the next couple of weeks, the flag will become a more permanent way to honor Ford. Instead of a blue flag with the team logo, the third flagpole will hold a blue flag with the initials “WCF” and the background of a football and two pillars representing the Lions logo during the 1960s. The flag will look much like the patch players will wear this season.

A similar flag will fly outside Ford Field this season, beginning with Monday night’s opener.

The Lions will have a ceremony in honor of Ford before the 7 p.m. kickoff, and will feature special guests, according to team president Tom Lewand.

“I think it’ll be a nice, appropriate tribute,” Lewand said.

Tickets for the Week 1 game are printed with Ford’s face as the background instead of a Lions player.

Ford bought the Lions in 1963, and his reign as owner and chairman began in 1964.

Since Ford’s death, his widow, Martha Firestone Ford, has assumed his post as owner and chairwoman. Their son, William Clay Ford Jr., is vice chairman, and their three daughters — Martha Ford Morse, Sheila Ford Hamp and Elizabeth Ford Kontulis — are on the board.

“We’re moving forward,” Lewand said. “We miss him tremendously; we miss his presence. It’s a clear loss, but the entire organization has been moving forward since March.”

jkatzenstein@detroitnews.com
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