Rest in Peace, Owsley Brown

Kentucky lost a giant last night. 

Owsley Brown II, was best known for serving as Chairman and CEO of Brown-Forman, a Fortune 500 corporation, but his enduring legacy will be for doing good, after doing so well. 

Brown was a very active and visible civic leader in Louisville who emerged ultimately as one of Kentucky’s most generous and profilic philathropists — a supporter of the arts, the environment, historic preservation, and hundreds of noble causes, large and small.

Owlsey Brown also happened to be a genuinely warm, steadfastly sincere, and eternally gracious and graceful human being.  I lost a dear friend last night, a mentor, adviser, and champion.  And so did so many other Kentuckians of my generation, whom Owsley so passionately nurtured and lifted upward.  He truly believed in giving back to the community that gave so much to him, and in paying forward all of the support that others had provided him along the way.

I’ve recently bristled at the overuse of the cliche that we should offer the grieving “our thoughts and our prayers.”  But as his widow (an extraordinary civic leader in her own right, Christy Brown) and his whole family mourns Owsley’s loss, I hope each of us will look into our own hearts, explore our individual religious and spiritual traditions, and take meaningful action to honor his memory.

When I learn of Owsley and Christy’s wishes for more formal ways to honor his memory, I will post them here.


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