A Match Made In Midtown: Bill Ford's Daughter Marries Carmen Harlan's Son

Eleanor Ford and Joseph Cobb, grade-school classmates and the children of two of Detroit’s best known public figures, were married Saturday afternoon at the Episcopal Cathedral Church of St. Paul.

Ellie Ford is the daughter of William Clay Ford Jr., chairman of Ford Motor Co., and Lisa Ford. Cobb is the son of Carmen Harlan, the longtime WDIV-TV news anchorwoman, and her first husband, Joseph Cobb.

Ford and Cobb, both 27, spoke their vows on a perfect summer day in the limestone fortress with the red doors on Woodward Avenue and E. Warren that is headed by the Very Rev. S. Scott Hunter. Both families have connections with the cathedral; the funeral for Ellie Ford’s great-great grandfather, Henry Ford, took place there in 1947.

Ford’s sister, Alexandra, served as maid of honor. Cobb’s best man was his brother-in-law, Leon Hall, the former University of Michigan football star who plays defensive back for the Cincinnati Bengals. In all, there were 20 bridesmaids and groomsmen.

As children, Ford and Cobb were east-siders who met in first grade at the University Ligget School in Grosse Pointe Woods. Classmates  through eighth grade, they reportedly liked each other and kept in touch to some degree through high school and college at different institutions.

The Fords, of course, have been Detroit’s first family for 100 years, and Ellie Ford's grandfather, William Clay Ford Sr., owns the Detroit Lions. She grew up in a mansion on Provencal Road in Grosse Pointe Farms, a longtime Ford stronghold, before her family moved in 2000 to a home on 17 acres in Ann Arbor Township, partly to escape the scrutiny the extended family receives in the Pointes. Cobb lived in Detroit’s Indian Village neighborhood of sumptuous homes built at the turn of the 20th Century.

Ford graduated from Princeton; Cobb went to Wayne State University, but they reunited at a party about five years ago and started a long-distance relationship: At first, Ford lived in San Francisco and Cobb was in Detroit.

Over the past five years, they’ve lived in Detroit, San Francisco and, now, New York, where Ford is studying for a Ph.D in psychology and Cobb works in finance.

While Bill Ford and Carmen Harlan are household names in metro Detroit, Ellie Ford and Joey Cobb have shunned the limelight and went out of their way to keep their wedding private. That wasn’t difficult; there was little interest among the Detroit media, and Ford Motor was guarded in what it let a spokeswoman discuss.

That was a huge contrast to the wedding of Ellie Ford’s grandparents, William Clay Ford Sr. and Martha Parke Firestone, granddaughter of Harvey S. Firestone, the tire magnate.

When they were married in 1947, in Akron, Ohio, it was a different era. Newspapers covered the rich in sycophantic “society pages,” and Ford Motor was happy to oblige.

For the Ford-Firestone wedding, the company issued a six-page news release that divulged everything from the bride’s dress – rare antique rose point and duchess lace – to the names of prominent guests. There were 900 in all. Among the events on the wedding-week schedule was a dinner for “bachelors and spinsters.”

William Clay Ford and Martha Ford sailed to Bermuda for their honeymoon. It is not known where Ellie Ford and Joey Cobb are going.

To view a short video of the 1947 wedding of William Clay Ford Sr. and Martha Ford, click here.

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