Former Kentucky Gov. John Y. Brown Jr. dies
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Former Kentucky governor and businessman John Y. Brown, Jr. has died at the age of 88.
Brown’s family released this statement about his passing:
Our Dad, John Y. Brown Jr., not only dreamed the impossible dream, he lived it until the very end. His positive attitude and zest for life was unrivaled and allowed him to beat the odds many times over. Every day was an exciting adventure for him. He was a true Kentucky original who beamed with pride for his home state and its people. He had many prominent accomplishments, but most of all he loved his family with all of his heart, and we in turn loved him with all of our hearts. We are heartbroken by his passing, but find comfort in what he wrote in one of his final days, “I have never been so happy.”
- statement from
his kids, Lincoln, Pamela, John the 3rd, Sissy and Sandy
While Brown served as governor from 1979 to 1983, his business ventures, sports ownerships and marriage to former Miss America Phyllis George are what he might be remembered for most.
He was born in Lexington in 1933 and was the son of former U.S. Rep. John Y. Brown, Sr.
After a brief stint in the family’s law practice, Brown and a group of investors bought Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1964 for $2 million, turning Col. Harland Sanders’ restaurants into a global chain.
In the 1970s, Brown purchased ownership stakes in several professional basketball teams.
In 1979, after marrying his second wife, Phyllis George, Brown won the Democratic party’s nomination for Kentucky governor and went on to defeat former Governor Louie B. Nunn.
“He was a salesman primarily. and what I think he was adept at selling was the state,” Former congressman Ben Chandler said. “Between himself and his wife, Phyllis George, they really did a tremendous job, I think, of selling Kentucky to the outside world.”
Brown’s term as governor was marked by tough economic times, budget challenges, and state employee layoffs. After serving one term, his lieutenant governor, Martha Layne Collins, went on to become Kentucky’s first and only female governor.
Brown tried to make a political comeback in 1987 but failed to win the Democratic party’s nomination for governor.
After the defeat, Brown focused again on his business ventures which included teaming up with country star Kenny Rogers to create a chicken restaurant chain and later a meal prep kitchen concept with actress Suzanne Somers.
Brown’s business accomplishments put him on the Harvard Business School’s list of “Great American Business Leaders of the 20th Century.”
Gov. Andy Beshear has directed that flags at all state office buildings be lowered to half-staff in Brown’s honor until sunset on the day of interment. Brown will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda in Frankfort.
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