Former Ford boss from Cannock dies at 63

A miner's son who rose to become group vice president of the Ford Motor Company has died in Australia, aged 63.

Bernard Silverstone
Bernard Silverstone

Bernard Silverstone was born in Cannock, the youngest of seven children, when his father moved the family from Scotland after securing a job at Littleton Colliery, later moving to Great Wyrley Pit.

He attended Redhill Primary, Chadsmoor, and Cannock Grammar School but left the family home in Masefield Grove to work for North Western Securities and then Ford in Brentwood.

He quickly rose through the ranks, spending tours of duty in Detroit, America, and Melbourne, Australia, helping Ford Motor Credit Company to significant growth as its chairman and chief executive as well as vice president of Ford Motor Company.

When he retired at 60, he left the UK with his wife Jacqui to live in Australia where their children, son Philip and daughter Lesley, had settled. Sadly he was diagnosed with cancer two years ago and died last month after developing a brain tumour.

Mr Silverstone had a 37-year career with Ford Credit during which time the company grew in its dealings from $91 billion to $134 billion. He joined as a field truck representative and went on to hold staff, operations and leadership positions in the United States, UK and Australia, and had responsibilities for European and Asia Pacific Operations.

Paying tribute to the grandfather-of-five, David McClelland, Ford Credit chief executive, described Mr Silverstone as "a mentor and great friend".

He went on: "The standards he set for quality, integrity and service at every position will be part of his legacy. Bernard also was a devoted family man who found great work-life balance and set a strong example for us all."

In a personal note to his family, Mr McClelland said: "He was a great man. He taught me so much. He showed such humility at work, he had a great curiosity and a respect for others like I have not seen anywhere else. His commitment to charity, to helping others and to doing the right thing was second to none."

He also referred to his colleague's love of telling corny jokes and referencing UK comedy programmes, and his insistence on stocking "proper" British beer.

Ford executive chairman Bill Ford said: "Bernard was not only passionate about taking great care of our dealers and customers but also a great leader and friend. He brought high energy, tremendous intellect and a strong sense of optimism to both the Ford and Ford Credit businesses."

Ronald Silverstone, 77, who lives in Scotland, said his brother was an active man who enjoyed playing golf and swimming.

"He was very caring and generous and remained down-to-earth, with no airs and graces, despite the position he reached in his career," he added. He also leaves a sister, based in Stafford.

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