Famous Kentucky Philanthropist, Business Leader Dies

Aug 17, 2012

One of Kentucky’s most famous philanthropists has died in Louisville. Owsley Brown Frazier was 77. Frazier was the great-grandson of the distiller who founded Brown-Forman Corp., whose brands include Woodford Reserve, Jack Daniels, and Old Forester.

Frazier gave away more than $500 million during his life, with major recipients being the University of Louisville, Bellarmine University, and a museum in Louisville that houses his personal collection of firearms and military-related artifacts.

U of L President Jim Ramsey said Frazier loved the university and the city, and was willing to do anything he could to improve them.

The Courier-Journal reports his father wanted Frazier to be a doctor, but after graduating from U of L in 1958, Frazier went to law school and became an attorney as preparation for joining the family business. He joined Brown-Forman in 1955 as a trainee while still in college, and rose through the ranks.

During his time at the company, Brown-Forman’s revenues from wine and spirits sales rose from $65 million to over $2 billion.

Because of his wealth and generosity, Frazier was constantly solicited for charitable contributions, receiving as many as 1,000 pitches a year from different organizations.

In 2004, he founded the Frazier International History Museum in downtown Louisville, which is home to many of the weapons Frazier collected throughout the years.

Last year, Frazier gave a no-strings-attached gift of $25 million to U of L, the largest single donation ever received by the school.