In failing health for several years, Ralph Wilson, the owner of the Buffalo Bills since the team’s inception, has died at the age of 95. Wilson established the team with the upstart American Football League in 1960. He was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in 2009. Wilson died at his Grosse Pointe Shores, MI home.
Bills President Russ Brandon told NFL owners at the league's winter meetings in Orlando, FL on Tuesday. Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder says Wilson will be remembered for much more than just professional football. The Republican governor tells The Associated Press in a statement that Wilson “was a leader in more areas of business'' than he can count.
Wilson was a major investor in a venture capital company that Snyder helped to create. Wilson was a philanthropist who also owned companies in the trucking, construction, media, insurance and manufacturing industries. His Ralph Wilson Equity Fund was among the original investors in Ardesta LLC, a venture capital business focusing on micro- and nanotechnology startups and co-founded by Snyder in 2000.
Snyder says Wilson was “a fascinating man who simply loved life."
STATEMENT FROM SHELDON SILVER
I am saddened by the passing of Ralph Wilson, the legendary owner of the Buffalo Bills and one of America’s most prominent businessmen.
Mr. Wilson deserves much credit for choosing to invest in Western New York and putting his faith in the area’s football fans when he helped launch the fledgling American Football League in the City of Buffalo, forever linking it and the surrounding region to what is now the National Football League, today’s premier professional sports institution.
For more than 50 years, Mr. Wilson partnered with state and local governments to keep the nationally acclaimed team in the region where he generously supported numerous charitable, youth and civic organizations.
Mr. Wilson’s longtime presence in business and sports was a terrific asset to the area, and he was true to his commitment that Western New York be the home of the Buffalo Bills. May he rest in peace.